How to Find a Good Farrier, Horseshoer

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Finding and Keeping a Good Farrier

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

  In your search for a good farrier, you come across Hank and David.  From their profiles that follow, which one is the best farrier?

     Hank is fifty-something and has been shoeing horses for over twenty-five years.  Every horseman in the area knows Hank and Hank knows a little bit about every horseman in the area.  Hank's rasp, at one time or another, has touched the hooves of the majority of the horses in the county.  Hank shoes everything from ponies to draft horses, roadside plodders to show ring performers.  Hank is friendly and can tell a great story.  Because he is popular, his regular customers sometimes find it hard to get an appointment with him when they really need help and it usually takes Hank about a week or so to get to a horse when it loses a shoe.  Hank is a self-taught farrier; he didn't go to farrier's school and doesn't care much for anatomy and physiology discussions.  His shoeing style tends toward the long toe, low heel.  Hank shoes six or more days a week and charges about $45 per shoeing, but it depends how long a person has been his customer.

     David, 37 and previously a roofer, graduated from a comprehensive farrier program eight years ago, set up a practice in his home state for five years, then relocated to the same county as Hank.  David attends all of the farrier conferences, seminars, and workshops that he can afford.  He reads the three farrier industry publications and keeps up with the latest in hoof care technology.  David voluntarily submitted for testing by the American Farrier's Association and has recently earned the Journeyman Certified Farrier designation.  David is very businesslike: he is punctual and reliable; he talks very little before, during, or after his work; when finished shoeing, he makes an appointment with the client for the next visit.  David researches new products and techniques and when appropriate, he offers to try them on his client's horses.  His shoeing style is based on balancing the hoof.  David schedules appointments for four days each week, which leaves the fifth day for overflow and emergencies.  He charges his regular customers $65 per shoeing, new and one-time customers $75 per shoeing.

     So, who do you think is the best farrier, Hank or David?  It's kind of a trick question because it depends on your horse involvement, your priorities, and your budget.  Choosing a farrier depends on your level of riding, your event, and your horse's specific shoeing requirements.  Since you want to give your horse the very best care you can, no matter what you use him for, investing your time in a thorough farrier search is very worthwhile.  After all, your farrier can help preserve the usefulness of your horse.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD FARRIER

 INTEREST AND PRIDE

    A farrier should be a true craftsman, one who has genuine interest and pride in his work.  He should look at each hoof that he prepares and shoes as one that will bear his trademark and demonstrate the quality of his work.  A keen farrier wants to keep informed of the latest research and developments in hoof care technology.  A farrier that does not stay updated is outdated.

 GOOD TIME MANAGEMENT

    Because a farrier must usually be the secretary, accountant, and chief laborer in his small operation, he must be a good business manager.  Time is one of his most valuable assets and it must be properly managed.  In order to be successful, a farrier must be organized when making and keeping appointments.  A farrier who is not dependable or punctual can cause unnecessary inconveniences and frustrations for horse owners and his negligence can result in irregular care for his client's horses.  A horseshoer must be careful to not pack his schedule so full that he gets in a hurry because then he will not do his best work.  If he fills the entire week with appointments, or gets behind schedule because of excessive visiting, then he has no time left for emergencies such as replacing lost shoes.

 GOOD HORSE HANDLING

Horse Handling and Grooming by Cherry Hill    In order to get along with the variety of horses belonging to clients, a farrier must understand and be comfortable using standard methods of horse handling.  Although a farrier needs to remain flexible to the different ways of doing things at various barns, he should never consent to work in unsafe conditions or work on an untrained or unmannerly horse.  A big part of his being a good horseman is knowing when to say NO when a client presents an unruly horse for him to shoe.

 GOOD COMMUNICATION

    Story telling is not a prerequisite to being a good horseshoer but being able to explain hoof care principles and management to owners is important.  You should be able to ask your farrier what thrush is and get a thorough, intelligent, and accurate answer.  After all, that is supposed to be his area of expertise - the health and care of the hooves.  If the answer to "what is thrush" is "black gook and you don't want it", then you haven't really learned anything you didn't know.  Although your farrier doesn't have the time to teach you everything he has learned, he should be able to give you a good answer and then refer you to books or articles that deal with the topics that concern or interest you.

 APPROPRIATE SKILL LEVEL 

Horse For Sale by Cherry Hill Just as there are all levels of horsemen, there are all levels of practicing horseshoers as well - from very basic, self-taught individuals to thoroughly educated, high-tech farriers.  Horses with abnormal hoof problems will require the experience and skill of an upper-echelon farrier.  When an inexperienced horseshoer is faced with quarter cracks, run-under heels, laminitis, or navicular syndrome, he may not know what to do or what he tries may make the situation worse.

 The greater the performance demands are on a horse, the more precise his shoeing needs to be.  The backyard pleasure horse with normal hooves may get along very well with shoes put on by a farrier who has only very basic (but acceptable) skills.  However, when that horse is headed into the barrel-racing arena, over a hunter course, or on an endurance ride, his shoeing requirements may become much more specialized.

 PRICE

    With farriery, as with many other things, you usually get what you pay for.  Although the price of a standard shoeing (four keg shoes) can vary from over $100 to less than $25, the national average is about $50.  Prices vary regionally with West Coast farrier fees being the highest, followed by the southeast, the East Coast, the Midwest, the west, and the southwest.  Within a region, the variation in prices among farriers will be based on their level of experience, education, skill, demand, and location.
 While the above factors are important when selecting a farrier, the following characteristics do not determine whether a farrier is a skilled professional or not.

  •  How good-looking he is.
  •  How much chrome he has on his truck.
  •  Who he knows.
  •  How many stories he tells between horses.
  •  How hard he is to get a hold of.
  •  How many years he has been shoeing.
  •  How many designer labels he has on his clothes.

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  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information


  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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