How to Find and Keep a Good Farrier, Horseshoer

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Keeping The Good Farrier

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

    First of all, get to know your farrier's preference for handling appointments.  Scheduling is the most common problem in getting continuous farrier service.  Does he like to schedule a definite appointment seven weeks in advance?  If so, do either of you have to phone to confirm the appointment the day before or do you just assume both parties will be responsible enough to show up?  What happens if one of you misses the appointment?  Does the farrier require the owner or someone to be present when he is working?

     Perhaps the farrier prefers you to call him as you need him?  If so, when should you call?  Three weeks ahead or one day ahead?  You'd better get an idea of how long after you call you can expect to see him.  If you have a large number of horses or if your horses differ greatly in their shoeing schedules, perhaps it would be best to arrange for your farrier to come to your farm on a particular morning each week unless otherwise notified.

     When you are on the phone confirming an appointment with your horseshoer, have an accurate list for him of what you need done such as two to shoe all around, three broodmares and one yearling to trim.  If your needs happen to change before your appointment, have the courtesy to call him so he can adjust the rest of that day's schedule accordingly.

Horse For Sale by Cherry Hill     Also, mention any special problems that your horses may have so that your shoer can be sure to have necessary supplies on hand when he visits.  Although some shoers trucks look like veritable stores with their inventory of shoes, pads, nails, and accessories all pigeonholed and categorized, if your horse has unusually large or small feet or needs quarter crack repair or some other specialized care, he may require supplies that your farrier does not normally carry with him.

     Discuss payment arrangements with your farrier.  Some farriers use a monthly billing system, especially with larger barns or with clients that have a large number of horses.  However, most farriers require payment at time of services, so if you will not be there in person, arrange to leave a check to pay the farrier for his work.  That way you will be ensured of continued farrier services.

     All horses that are scheduled for work should be readily available before the farrier arrives.  They can be tied or cross-tied in the barn or in nearby stalls or small pens conveniently located to the working area.  The shoeing area should have a secure place to safely tie horses at a level above the height of their withers.  The area should be well lighted, uncluttered, and level.  Some shoers like to work on a concrete slab, others on a rubber mat.  A rocky paddock or a barn aisle full of potholes does not allow your horse or your farrier stand level.

     Although direct sunlight helps your shoer see what he is doing, hot summer sun can be extremely fatiguing.  Provide shade and shelter for summer as well as for winter work.  Besides making your farrier happy, you will be making your horses more comfortable and cooperative as well.

     The area where the farrier works should not be like Grand Central Station.  Shoeing in the crossties in a barn aisle can be a real nightmare if traffic in and out of stalls requires the farrier to constantly move the horse he is working on.

Your Horse Barn DVD     A place where the farrier can concentrate on his work without interruptions will enable him to do his best work.  Children and dogs have no place in the farrier area.  When an owner is yelling "Skippy, Skippy, Skippy, NO!" at the tops of her lungs at a dog who suddenly appears underfoot to sneak a hoof trimming, the horse may think he is the one being yelled at and problems can result.  The nearby operation of noisy machines such as motorcycles, snow machines, snow blowers, weed eaters, and chain saws can certainly be scheduled at a time other than when the farrier is working.

     If your horses have come out of muddy lots, be sure to clean them, especially their shoulders, hindquarters, and legs.  Also, scrape and then wipe the mud off the hooves rather than hosing them off.  Clean, dry hooves are much better for the farrier to work on than slippery, soggy hooves.  Make things nice for your farrier and chances are that he or she will respond in kind.

Horse Handling and Grooming by Cherry Hill     Your horse must be trained to be cooperative about having his legs handled and his hooves worked on.  It is your responsibility to present your farrier with a well-mannered horse.  Although it helps if you tell the farrier beforehand about any idiosyncrasies your horse has, the farrier does not have the time, nor is it in his job description, to be a horse trainer.  He expects and deserves cooperative horses to work on.

     Will each and every one of your horses pick up any leg at any time and hold it up for at least 3-4 minutes?  All this and not pull it away, or jerk nervously, or lean?  Although this sounds very simple, you would be surprised how many horses do not have good manners about having their legs handled.  A horse should not need to be forced into submission for shoeing  - he should be properly trained beforehand.  And under no circumstance should any person ever be put in the position to have to leg wrestle with a horse.  If you are having trouble with your horse's manners, don't expect your farrier to take care of the problem.  Hire a professional trainer - that is what they do for a living.

  Now here are some DOs and DON'Ts for the actual farrier visit.

     DO offer to hold your horses rather than tie them if it is their first time for trimming or shoeing, but
     DON'T feel offended if your offer is rejected.  Your farrier may prefer to work alone with the horse tied.
     DO have plenty of fly repellent on hand, but
     DON'T wait until your farrier's visit to acquaint your horse with a spray bottle.
     DO introduce your dogs to your farrier but
     DON'T let your dogs loose while the farrier is working.
     DO tell your horseshoer the name, age, and use of each horse (and you may continue and tell about each ribbon he's won, the time he went through the fence, the first time you showed him a pig....) but
     DON'T expect him to really listen or to carry on a conversation.  He is there for one reason  - to provide a professional service that allows you to participate in your favorite horse activities.
     DO pay attention to your horse's behavior, but
     DON'T take your nervous horse for a hike down the gravel driveway on freshly trimmed feet while the farrier is shaping a shoe.
     DO discuss stable management and hoof care with your farrier.  Ask him about the symptoms of problems he may see in your horse's feet and listen to his recommendations to remedy them, but
     DON'T expect miracles from your farrier.  If you bought a horse that had been neglected for two years, or if you have a horse with crooked legs, or if you board at a stable that only cleans stalls once a week, don't think that your farrier has a magic rasp that can cure cracks, founder, conformation flaws, or thrush.  You must work together toward gradual, permanent results.
     DO have your payment in full ready before he leaves and   DON'T make him ask.
     DO offer him a place to wash up and a glass of water.
     DO make an appointment for the next shoeing.

     Finally, one of the best ways to keep a good farrier is to show him that you are genuinely interested in the health of your horse's hooves.  Be a conscientious manager and rider and learn all you can about hoof care and shoeing.  The more knowledgeable you are, the better able you will be to converse with your farrier.  Stay informed by reading specialized articles related to farriery.

     The care of your horse's hooves is a team effort between you, your veterinarian, and your farrier.  Take the time to find a really interested, skilled farrier, then treat him like the professional he is and you will likely be able to retain his good services.

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  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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