The Good Farrier
2008 Cherry Hill ©
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
2008 Cherry Hill ©