The relationship between a farrier and owner or trainer is an important, yet often over-looked, part in the success of the equine athlete. It is over-looked by owners. It is over-looked by trainers. It can even be over-looked by farriers. However, a good, solid relationship with your farrier is critical in order to be successful with your horse, whether you are competing or just riding for fun.
Talking to your farrier about any concerns you have is key to good horse management. You are with your horse every day. You should be able to recognize and communicate with your farrier if your horse is having soundness issues or is not performing to his potential. With the internet and social media networks, information on hoof care and shoeing is abundant these days. These sources are easy to access but may not always the best source for advice. While there is plenty of good, accurate information to be found on the web there is also a lot of misinformation. Be cautious and bear in mind that anyone can promote shoeing techniques and products on the internet, regardless of knowledge or qualifications. Remember, every horse differs in conformation, attitude, training level, and natural ability. Equine athletes are as individual as their riders. What works for your friend’s horse may not work for your horse. Respect and trust your farrier’s judgment. Likewise, good farriers will respect your opinion.
Below are tips to help solidify your relationship with your farrier. These are common sense things you should reasonably expect from your farrier as well as things you can provide. You will be pleasantly surprised by the positive relationship that will flourish by following this simple advice.
What you should expect from your farrier:
The farrier you choose should be competent and professional. He/she should be educated and understand the specific discipline in which you are participating. Most farriers work effectively on multiple types of horses, but usually focus their skills on only one or two disciplines. Find a farrier who excels in the discipline in which you are competing. For example, you would not go to a cardiologist for a slipped disc in your back. Likewise, you should not use a farrier who specializes in padded, gaited horses for your grand prix dressage horse.
Your farrier should be proactive in attending continuing education and/or certification testing opportunities. There is no excuse for a farrier not to update his skills and knowledge. There are seminars on shoeing and lameness as well as certification readily available all over the world. Although certification in the U.S. is voluntary, it is an important part of farrier education. The American Farriers Association is the most successful certification program in the USA and offers three levels of certification (certified, tradesman and journeyman) and three separate endorsements (therapeutic, forging and education). Ask your farrier what level of certification he has achieved, he will be proud to tell you.
A farrier should arrive on time for your appointment. As we all know, our days do not always go according to plan. It is not unreasonable to expect a phone call from the farrier when he is delayed or unable to keep your appointment.
Your farrier should be able to answer all your hoof care and lameness questions. Farriers should be knowledgeable of equine anatomy and how it correlates with your horse’s specific needs. This knowledge is essential for your farrier to correctly and appropriately shoe your horse. This is critical in order for your farrier to be able to discuss lameness issues with your veterinarian as well as fill your horse’s shoeing prescription.
A farrier should have the ability to build a variety of shoes for your horse’s individual needs. Not every type or style of shoe can be purchased from the horseshoe supply company. However, skilled farriers can forge shoes tailored to your horse’s needs.
A farrier should display a presentable appearance and demeanor. Your farrier is there for your horses and/or clients. The hoof care professional you choose is a reflection of you and should be respectful of your horse, property and business. Appearance and attitude are a reflection of your farrier’s pride in a job well done.
Perhaps most importantly, a farrier should know when he is in over his head. Farriers are sometimes presented with lameness or injury issues that they have not yet encountered. This is why your farrier’s involvement in the AFA is so important to you and your horse. It provides him access to thousands of farriers, one of which has undoubtedly treated similar issues and can offer sound advice or a second opinion.
What your farrier expects from you: