Finding a Good Farrier    

By  Melissa Brawner
http://www.SonshineAcres.net

Finding a good farrier can be a daunting task to say the least.  A good farrier is in high demand, and usually commands top dollar for every service performed.  I  have lived in Fort Lupton about 8 years, and  have gone through 6 different farriers.  We had one that couldnít handle a horse, and with every move the mare made, he belly kicked her or slammed her with a rasp.  We had a few that were fantastic, and then just disappeared into thin air, never to be contacted again.  When I am looking for a new farrier, I ask horse professionals who they use, and why they like them, I find out what the farrier specializes in, and I try to watch the farrier to see if they can handle a horse.

When I first located here, I had to find a new farrier fast.  A horse usually needs to see a farrier every 8 weeks, and sometimes sooner if needed.   This didnít give me much time to locate a professional that could do a great job.  I talked to the local veterinarians, got a list of folks from them to check out, and then I spoke to other horse enthusiasts in the area.  I went to different barns and observed.  The names for a good farrier were numerous, and of course, as I collected names, I also got the stories that came along with them.  You will find that for every horse owner, there is an opinion.  I usually collect the opinions, sort through them, keep the information useful for me, and discard the rest.  Some of the farriers preferred by individuals were despised by others.  I found that sometimes it was a personality conflict with the horse owner, and sometimes it was a personality conflict with the horse.  It sounds silly, but it is true!  Then of course you have some people that have no business being a farrier.

 
 

  I have a farrier that I use specifically with our stallion.  He is fantastic, and has built a relationship with the horse.  He is patient, and knows exactly what my stud needs.  My stallion was almost permanently lamed by the prior farrier.  The farrier that almost permanently lamed him, cut off all his toes, left the heel, and stood him up like he was on tin cans, or was a club footed horse.  The poor horse couldnít walk for a month.  The farrier that I now use for Rio built him artificial angles of close to 55 degrees with a special type of glue and epoxy, and put a leather  pad over the sole of the hoof for protection.  It took over a year to get the stallion back to normal.  Right from the beginning there was a personality conflict between the horse and the prior farrier.  Rio is a very calm horse, as most Zippo bred horses are, but he would get antsy around this farrier.  The farrier loved one of the other stallions, and would stand there scratching and rubbing on him forever, but he didnít like anything about Rio.  You could see the personality conflict right from the get go.  I truly donít think he lamed him on purpose, but he never said he did anything wrong, or admitted that he may have made a mistake, much less apologize.  I am sure that most horse owners have horror stories similar to this, but it doesnít make it fun, easy or acceptable.

  A farrier usually has  a preferred clientele.  My current farrier usually specializes in Draft horses, but he is so good and patient with the horses, that I love to have him at our farm with our quarters and paints.  He will take his time with the young stock, so that their experience with the farrier is pleasant.  He will scratch all over on them, let the horse smell his hat, and not get worried about it if the young horse needs a break.  He is even patient with the crotchety old broodmares!  Once a horse is used to the farrier, it will stand still, and lift up its feet, but you have to teach it to do this, it doesnít come naturally.  It is nice to find a farrier that can handle any type of horse, but if you have a certain discipline that you favor such as barrel racing, reining, or halter, make sure your farrier trims your horse the correct way.  Not every farrier will know how to set sliders for the Reiners, or kegs for the Drafts!  If you have a specialty, hit some of the shows, and ask fellow competitors who they use for a farrier.  Ask about the farriers specialty, and try to observe them while they tend to a horse.  As I said before, I have someone else trim our stallion due to his needs.

 I do not envy a farrier his or her job.  It is an extremely dangerous job, and it isnít always easy to deal with the horse or the owner.  The owner has to take responsibility to have the horse trained for the farrier, or have the tranquilizers handy.  It isnít fair to expect a farrier to come out and trim a horses feet when the owner canít even pick them up to clean them!  You as the horse owner have to do your part including disciplining the horse if it acts up during the farrier appointment.  After saying that,  I measure the success of a farrier by the end result.  If the angles are correct for the horse, the horse travels correctly, and the sole of the hoof looks good, we have a winner!  I also appreciate when a farrier shows up to appointments, will actually return calls, and has some people skills.  This is just about a perfect description of our current farrier.  He told me that he gains and retains clients on his ability, and his great customer service.  A good farrier is worth the money.  A horse can have quite a few things wrong with it, and still be ridden.  If you have a bad farrier, or are in dire need of a farrier, the horse can  be permanently injured, to the point of having to be put down.  The feet are no place to skimp!  Find a good farrier and stick with them.