6 Ways to Impress Your Farrier

Your farrier and vet are two integral parts of your equine health team, and their value can’t be overstated. As horse owners, we owe it to our horse’s health team to present them a patient that is well-mannered, and prepared. Your farrier has probably handled some truly unruly horses. And sometimes even with our best efforts, our horse might not be on his best behavior. However, we can all do our best to prepare our horse for his health visits. I chatted with my farrier to discover 6 easy ways to make your farrier’s life easier, and be the best client you can be.

As horse owners, we owe it to our horse’s health team to present them a patient that is well-mannered, and prepared.

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Level the Field

You don’t need a fancy barn with all the modern luxuries, but try and provide your farrier with a clean, safe, and level area to work. A clean and level working area reduces the risk of accidents for both the farrier and horse. Uneven surfaces or cluttered spaces can lead to slips, falls, or injuries during the trimming or shoeing process. A level surface ensures stability while working, leading to precise trimming and shoeing results for the horse. You’ve most likely seen your farrier analyzing each hoof to determine proper angles. This is where a level working field can help them achieve the best, balanced results for your horse.

Clean Up on Barn Aisle 4

If possible, try and clean your horse up before your farrier arrives. He doesn’t need to undergo a full grooming session, but removing mud and dirt from his legs and hooves is not only respectful to your farrier but allows them the chance to get a good look at your horse’s legs. If his hooves are caked in mud, that will have to be cleaned off beforehand anyway. So, save your farrier some time and elbow grease and have your horse clean and ready. Your farrier isn’t just there to slap some shoes on your horse and call it a day. They are looking for signs of hoof health issues, lameness, and other concerns that might be lurking under the surface. Give them a clean surface to observe, so they can do their job thoroughly and effectively.

If your horse is anything like mine…he’s going to make a mess while he’s having his feet trimmed. Your farrier will appreciate that you stick around for the duration of the appointment. And while you’re there, keep the workspace clean. If your horse poops during his pedicure, clean it up right away and try not to let him step in it. All that work to clean his legs and hooves can be spoiled if you don’t keep a clean work environment during the appointment.

Light it Up

There is a lot that goes into a trim or shoeing job. Your farrier will be assessing angles and trying to achieve the best balanced result possible for your horse. That’s why good lighting is imperative so they can see their handiwork. Leaning over a hoof often casts a shadow, so having a well-lit area or accessory lighting helps your farrier to keep those angles balanced, and see their handiwork. If you don’t have overhead barn lights, consider bringing in portable lights during your farrier visit.

Stay Alert

If you’re holding your horse for your farrier, stay alert and tuned in during the process. When your horse lowers his head, turns it, or is standing off balance, this can all throw off the position of the leg; making it harder to read the lower limb. Not only does proper handling of your horse help your farrier do their job correctly, it keeps everyone a little safer. If you’re distracted and on your phone, you might not notice the cues your horse is giving that warn you of impending behavior. Staying alert allows you opportunities to note areas of growth. You can observe how you can help your horse be a better patient for next time, or where you might need to help him improve.

Along the same note, by being tuned in during your appointment, you can continue to learn and grow as a horse owner. Although we can’t all be vets and farriers, we can try and be as knowledgeable and educated as possible for the benefit of our horse. Your farrier is happy to help you learn and explain issues that they might see.

[Learn to Read Your Horse’s Hooves]

Practice Makes Perfect

The only way to get your horse ready for his shoeing or trimming appointment, is to prepare him ahead of time. Work with him on picking up his feet and holding them. Do your part to train your horse to be a good patient. Every time you saddle your horse, pick his feet up, clean and inspect them. Practice holding them in the air. This type of repetition not only allows your horse to get comfortable with having his feet handled, but gives you a good idea of his baseline hoof health so you can catch changes right away.

Communication is Key

Sometimes despite our best efforts, our horse isn’t ready to be a picture perfect patient for the farrier. This is where communication plays a key role. Be honest with your farrier (especially if they’ve never seen this horse before,) and let them know your horse’s quirks. This lets the shoer decide if they’re comfortable working with this specific horse, or prepared. They’re going to find out pretty quick if your horse kicks when his back feet are handled, or if he likes to pull back when tied. So, be up front if you know about these issues.

Many farriers are very skilled at handling horses new to trimming or shoeing. They probably know their way around a nervous horse. They might know a few tricks to help your horse become comfortable with the process. And depending on the horse and farrier, sedation might be suggested. Communication is also important if you have any special requests of your farrier. You know your horse and his needs, and your farrier knows their stuff. So, work together with the expert to figure out the best plan to keep his hooves healthy. Keeping an open line of communication with your horse’s health team will benefit everyone in the long run. Be respectful, transparent with your needs, and willing to learn and listen. It’s for your horse.

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