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Oxen at work

Montauban, the blacksmith-ferrier

At a time when animals were used daily for travelling and hard farm labour, the farrier was a key figure in the rural world.
Designed to protect the hooves of animals, shoeing was carried out differently for horses and cattle. Horseshoes were nailed to the hooves while the animals were simply held in place by ropes. Oxen and cows, however, unable to balance on three legs, had to be placed in a wooden frame and held still by a series of straps. Their shoes were also very different from those of horses due to their very particular anatomy. Each of the animal’s feet, made up of two hooves, had to be fitted with two parallel, oval-shaped shoes.
Montauban, the last farrier in Manglieu, was practising his craft until the 1960s. Like his predecessors, he had his own forge. He was also often called upon to treat sick or injured animals, at a time when access to a vet was not easy.

Image captions

  • Montauban, photographed in 1969
  • Oxen at work – Montauban, the farrier
  • Shoeing works were often located in the centre of villages or hamlets. Most have been destroyed but some are still standing, such as the one in the hamlet of Yronde, in the neighbouring commune of Yronde-et-Buron.


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