No hoof, no horse

If you consider the sheer size of the animal supported on four hooves, it’s little wonder that that statement has been around for many years and it is absolutely true. No hoof, no horse.

Your farrier is one of the most important people in your horse’s life.  Without correct farrier work your horse will not thrive, sporting goals may not be achieved, and you may struggle with unsoundness issues. Your farrier is chosen by you as the owner based on merit or previous work and a good reputation. You asked him to do the job because you have placed your trust in him or her. Try and make his life a little easier so that he can do the job to the best of his ability and also maintain your horse’s health and wellbeing though his farrier work.

Farriers spend long hours bent over under heavy animal weight. They have to deal with the little ponies in pretzel like conditions too. Their backs and hands take enormous strain and when they aren’t bent over under a horse they are on the road going to their next client. It’s a tough job!

Some points below to help your farrier do a sterling job.

When your farrier is due, make sure your horse is in a stable or a small space so that he can work with the horse. Your farrier cannot be expected to go and fetch your horse in a huge paddock. He usually has a planned work day and spending 2 hours trying to catch Fred is a waste of his time and the next client will be affected because the farrier will be late to that appointment.

Make sure your horse is clean and dry when brought to the farrier. Wet horses make wet farriers and a wet farrier is not a happy farrier! A horse caked in mud or dripping with water just makes a hard job a huge amount more difficult. And that goes for hoof oil as well – put it on after the farrier has been.

Pay your farrier. No IOU’s. He has to put diesel / petrol into his vehicle in order to serve a client list, and he needs to buy stock and tools so that he can do his job correctly. He needs payment to do that. Pay him on time, on the day of his work and the correct amount. Clients that are continuously rolling monies due, to the next shoeing will be looking for a new farrier in no time, as the farrier cannot sustain his business and meet clients’ needs on fresh air.

Trust your farrier. You picked him for a reason, remember that. YOU chose him to do the job. Don’t be the client that Googled  “ how to be a farrier” and then tell the farrier how to do his job. If you can do it better, then perhaps you must do the farrier work.

Discuss things with your farrier. If something is worrying you or you have noticed something that concerns you with regards to your horse’s hooves then ask your farrier about it. They will always discuss ideas and concerns with owners if asked sensible questions. Verbally attacking your farrier because of other peoples opinions on his work usually won’t result in a cordial relationship with your farrier. Talk directly to the farrier, not Jo Soap down the road who has never used a paring knife in his life.

Make sure your horse can be handled easily and stands for a farrier. The farrier cannot teach your horse to pick up his feet or stand for the work to be done. That is an owner responsibility. And if you know that your horse may be difficult or is young and new to this exercise, tell your farrier beforehand so that he can work with the horse in a different manner. Knowledge beforehand keeps your farrier and your horse safe from any injury. You want your horse to be safe and sound but you also want your farrier to be safe and sound.

You can expect good work from your farrier, but don’t expect miracles. A horse purchased with a boxy hoof will always have a boxy hoof. The farrier cannot make a conformation fault go away. He can shoe or trim the horse, to assist the horse with a conformation fault but he cannot be expected to make the fault vanish. There is only so much that corrective shoeing can do.

Communicate with your farrier. Things happen and life gets in the way. Sometimes the day on which a farrier is due to see your horse, is the day when you are at a show 300km away. If you know in advance that there might be a hiccup with planning let your farrier know and then he can plan things around the issue and everyone on his client list can be attended to.

Your farrier will always do the best job he can and if he is treated well and cordially by his clients it will grow a strong relationship that will span many years. The farrier that is respected, trusted and treated fairly will go out of his way to assist loyal and pleasant clients. He will drop other things to attend to your horse that pulled a shoe and is going to a show next week, but if you haven’t paid him for last months work, or he has to catch the horse every time he gets to your stable yard you won’t be a priority change to the days plan.

Be kind to your farrier, be loyal to your farrier and remember no hoof, no horse.

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