In this seven part series I sat down with one of this country’s leading farriers to tackle the age old debate of shoeing your horse verses leaving him or her barefoot. The series is both controversial and enlightening and in the end, my goal is to provide information on both sides of the fence so that you may make an informed decision about your horse’s shoeing needs.
In the first two installments, To Shoe or Not to Shoe: Part 1 and To Shoe or Not to Shoe: Part 2 I introduced the series and provided some initial shoeing factors. In To Shoe or Not to Shoe: Part 3 I covered the healthy hoof and options to protect it. Finally, in To Shoe or Not to Shoe: Part 4, my expert provided some trimming options to consider should you decide to leave your horse barefoot. In last week’s post, To Shoe or Not to Shoe: Part 5, we talked about reasons why an owner might choose to shoe his or her horse. You’ll want a quality farrier to guide you along the way so in this week’s post I cover how to select and keep a quality farrier.
Part 6 (Selecting & Keeping a Farrier): Regardless of the decision reached by the horse’s team of caregivers, another goal of any farrier is to make the horse more comfortable when they leave than when they arrived. Of course, there are therapeutic cases where, following a visit, the horse may temporarily be more uncomfortable but this can occur whether it’s a trim only or a shoeing. This soreness is generally associated with prolonged weight bearing on one foot while the other one is being worked on or the result of flexing the joints of an arthritic horse while it is being shod but no matter the reason the horse’s wellbeing is always the end goal. To make certain that you choose the correct farrier Davis offers the following advice:
• Choose an experienced farrier. History has shown that it takes 10,000 feet, not horses, to be able to trim a hoof to a consistent standard. On average, that’s about 3 – 5 years. Before that a farrier is still crafting his or her trade.
• Select a farrier who takes into consideration everything in the horse’s environment. When thinking about shoeing options the farrier needs to be able to carefully consider the horse’s needs against his environment.
• Ask questions and check backgrounds. Where and for how long your potential farrier received his training, years of experience and association memberships are just a few of the suggested questions you should ask.
• Be wary of farriers with agendas and extremists. Davis, for example, does not sell supplements or sealants as part of his practice and will only make recommendations if asked. He advises never to do business with a farrier who will tell you that there is only one method that will work.
Once you have selected a quality farrier Davis makes these suggestions for maintaining a good relationship:
• Provide a clean environment in which your farrier can work.
• Make certain the working area is well lit, dry, and level.
• Furnish a well-behaved horse.
• Follow your farrier’s advice in terms of scheduling of appointments in addition to any directives he or she may give you for caring for your horse’s hooves in between visits.
• If any problems or issues arise between visits be sure to notify your farrier of these as well.
Want to learn more? In the final post of this series we’ll talk about ways that you can provide optimal hoof care for your horse.
About the expert: Jeremy Davis has been a professional farrier for nineteen years. He is a Certified Journeyman Farrier with the American Farriers Association and is a Diplomat with the Worshipful Company of Farriers. He is currently the Farrier in Residence at The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.