This picture is a version of one of Herring's most celebrated compositions: Shoeing Imaum, painted in 1865 for the prosperous racehorse owner, James Merry. In 1848, Herring had declared that he would not paint another racing winner unless he could 'make a subject of it', and he began to broaden his subject matter to include rural genre scenes. A few years later, in 1853, he moved to Meopham Park near Tonbridge, where he lived the life of a country squire, and his meticulously detailed farmyard scenes became a major focus of his work.
The beautiful grey Arab horse in the centre of the composition is Imaum, originally a gift to Queen Victoria from the Imaum of Muscat. The Queen gave Imaum to the Clerk of the Royal Stables who somewhat ungratefully put him up for auction at Tattersall's. Herring successfully bid for Imaum who henceforth became the artist's favourite model. The other horse in this picture is a handsome Suffolk punch. The model for the young woman was Herring's youngest daughter, Jenny, who married Mr. Warner, a local solicitor in 1857. The figure of the blacksmith is modelled by William Terry, who worked for Herring until 1856 and appeared in many of his works.