It takes a “special” type of person to sign on for twenty or so years of avoiding poop, drool, kicks, and sometimes bites courtesy of very large beast . Add in the desire to hammer hot metal, hold thousands of nails in ones mouth and having hands that seem to permanently smell of thrush.
In addition to the physical demand of the craft, this person shall also have a complete working knowledge of equine anatomy and locomotion as well as being an entrepreneur, teacher and salesperson.
Sometimes with all of this knowledge and experience comes the tendency to become annoyed when non-farriers are not aware of things that can make our job harder, more dangerous or our work less effective.
There are some things you can do to becoming a favorite on your hoof care professional’s calendar. Here is a list of farrier visit suggestions I believe the horse-owner can do to make the experience better for everyone involved.
1. Do your homework. There is no prerequisite to buy one of these animals and the instruction manual is sold separately. If you are new to the sport seek some sort of guidance. Horse are big and can become very headstrong and if they think they have the upper hoof in the situation.
I highly recommend taking some lessons at your local stable before acquiring a horse. A little supervised instruction will save you a lot of headaches and money down the road. If you can’t do that, buy or borrow a more experienced and older horse to learn on. You will enjoy horse ownership much more with a reliable and steady partner.
2. Provide me with a level, dry work area free of clutter. If the horse decides to have a come-apart I want to be able to get away from him without tripping over your hay string collection. Also, it is dangerous to work in the field where other horses are loose.
Keep animals at bay as they are all very curious, Dogs like get underfoot, sometimes literally, trying to nab hoof trimmings.
3. In the summer it is too hot to work in direct sunlight. Let’s try to set up under a tree if there is not a barn to work in.
4. In the winter having some shelter is great, however, I work for plenty of people without a barn happily. Those people have a well drained sunny place and maybe a building acting as a wind break. I’m happy to reschedule if the weather is truly awful.
5.If I am shoeing your horse, being close to my truck would be appreciated. I will have to make a lot of trips back and forth when fabricating and fitting the shoes.
6. Train your horse to be able to stand patiently. If your horse is shying away from me and defecating constantly it is usually because he’s nervous. Most likely he just needs more good experiences being handled. Work with your horse from the ground regularly and watch him transform into a more confident and agreeable companion.
Tie him regularly and he will become accustomed to being confined and messed with. If the only time this horse is handled is for farrier and vet work it is understandable that he would be suspicious.
7. Make and keep appointments. Not all horses are going to be able to go the maximum 8 weeks between farrier visits and trying to save money or time will yield unsatisfactory results. The farrier must stay ahead of the hoof growth especially with distressed feet.
8. Have all the accessories. A minimum of working halter and lead rope with the animals in a nearby confined area ready to be caught. Bonus points for having your horse fly sprayed in the warm months. Super bonus for cleaning the horses feet out.
9. Follow follow up directions. Your horse has white line disease or thrush? Treat the hooves with the medication and they will be WAY more likely to improve. I get a warm, fuzzy feeling whenever I see purple stains as evidence of your campaign for hoof health, Thrush busted!
10. For the love of all that is good, pick your horses feet out as part of your pre-ride or grooming routine. Horses are not naturals at standing on three legs. At all. The more you handle your horses legs the more skill he will have at balancing his thousand pound frame over a triangle instead of square.
Doing so on a regular basis helps me so much. Most of the reason for farrier anxiety in horses is based upon the fear of the unknown. Problems start when the horse looses balance. The animal gets nervous which causes the farrier to also become nervous. This is a vicious cycle that can end in all sorts of tragedy! Don’t let it start by having your horse comfortable and bored by the whole procedure.
In conclusion, I would like to add that I strive for progress not perfection. The fact that you have read my little post about my preferences goes a long way. Us cantankerous, crumpled and stinky farriers thank you for your interest. In the end, I love being a part of team “your horse” and want to right by him, and sincerely appreciate your business.
See you in six weeks;).