Anyone who owns horses knows how important a good farrier is! When you find a great farrier, I suggest moving Heaven and Earth to keep him/her happy! Here are some tips to become your farrier's FAVORITE client!
Your Horse's Best Soundness Support!
You've heard the saying "No Hoof, No Horse". Good farriers work closely with veterinarians and technicians of other modalities to help horses stay sound and comfortable. A correct, balanced shoe job in addition to PEMF brought this mare back from chronic Navicular disease.
Shoeing horses is VERY hard work. Good farriers will tell you they do the job because they love to see their work keep horses performing at their best. Unfortunately, owners are often a farrier's biggest challenge.
I consider myself very fortunate that both my Father AND my Husband are excellent farriers! I've seen the profession from both sides of the table. Here are a few tips your farrier wants you to know...
Be courteous. Many horse owners complain about the farrier ALWAYS being late. Do you know why they are always late? Because horse owners make them late! Have your horses caught, groomed and feet washed off if it is muddy. Provide a level, clean area for the farrier to work on. How would you like to try to do a good job shoeing a horse with mud caked on his legs, tied to a horse trailer on uneven ground? Yeah...NOT COOL! Have payment ready. Don't make your farrier hunt you down to get paid!
Help Keep your Farrier Safe! I hate to break it to you, but most farriers do NOT want you to hold your horse. Many owners contribute to horses misbehaving while being shod. Having a cross tie or at least a good, level place to work with a suitable fence to wrap the halter rope around(most farriers don't tie solid while shoeing for safety purposes) is MANDATORY. Don't be offended if your farrier has someone along to hold the horse. They are a team and whoever is handling the horse understands exactly how a horse needs to be positioned for the farrier to do the work. Not knowing how to keep a farrier safe while they are under the horse can and does result in injury. You must understand how necessary communication and expert handling is to keeping a farrier safe. Keep dogs, children, chickens, goats, pot bellied pigs, peacocks, gerbils, wiener dogs and all other forms of spook-inducing nonsense AWAY from the work area...
3. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD...DO NOT FEED YOUR HORSE TREATS while he is being shod! Frankly, just get out of the way and let the farrier do his/her work. You are really not needed and are more of a distraction than you can possibly imagine.
4. Work With Your Horse's Feet...a LOT. It's not your farrier's job to train your horse. It's up to YOU to make sure the horse stands quietly for the farrier. He needs to be well behaved while having his feet picked up AND extended out front! Many owners say, "My horse is WONDERFUL about his feet being picked up!" when all they ever do is pick the feet out for 30 seconds. Horses need to hold their feet up for a longer period of time as well as extend their hooves out in front to work on a hoof stand and hind legs up under their belly. If you are not able to work with your horse to achieve obedience, hire a trainer to do it for you.
5. Save your Advice. The meme is funny because it's TRUE! Really good farriers go through a lot of training and Apprenticeship to learn their trade. That article you read in Horse and Rider does NOT qualify you to dictate what angle you think your horse needs to be at. If you have questions, ask away! Also give your farrier feedback on how you feel your horse is performing. Farriers work hard to fine tune their work to best support equine athletes and your feedback is an important part of that, but please don't tell your farrier how to do his job. Farriers also love to consult with veterinarians, so if you have an issue going on that your vet is treating, connect the two so they can work together to resolve the problem.
6. Don't Farrier Hop. Switching from farrier to farrier makes it impossible for one farrier to tune in to exactly what your horse needs. If you are not happy with the results of a shoe job, talk to your farrier. Be willing to have radiographs shot by a Veterinarian your farrier works with in order to determine the best course of action. Know in advance most good farriers will not tolerate this behavior and doing it will result in getting "fired" by your farrier.
A Great Farrier is a Horse Owner's Best Friend
A farrier's main goal is to keep horses hooves sound and healthy. Being aware of how to keep your farrier safe and happy working for you can go a long way to developing a long term relationship with this skilled professional. Building a good relationship ensures your farrier is there when you need him in an emergency. It also means you will not be one of the clients cut when he has too many and has to choose who to keep. The fact is, good farriers don't have to put up with crap. They can cherry pick the good horses and clients, leaving the rest to less experienced farriers to weed through. If you are fortunate enough to obtain the services of a very skilled farrier, YOU are the one interviewing, not him.
Most farriers thoroughly enjoy their clients and they certainly love helping horses! Do everything you can to keep YOUR farrier safe, happy and labeling you his Favorite Client!
Join us for the Unfiltered Equestrian Podcast May Episode - Things Your Farrier Wants You To Know with guest Tony Yost! Tony has been a professional farrier for 47 years. During that time, he has served as a mentor to many young farriers. An apprenticeship with him is a sought after commodity. Tony will be sharing decades of insight and wisdom so make sure to tune in!