Do you dread picking up your horse’s feet? Do you wrestle with him to get studs in and out? Just think how your farrier feels when he/she shoes your horse!
Your farrier is a key member of the team that keeps your horse at his best. Here are some tips on how to make the process more pleasant for everyone involved!
As one farrier told me, “You will get more bang for your buck if your horse stands still for the farrier.”
Foals/Youngsters – Handle your youngsters early on and often! Run your hands down the legs, pick up the feet, get them used to being touched and handled. Bring the youngster into the area where the farrier is working on other horses and have the farrier ‘introduce’ him/herself to the youngster before working on him.
Older horses or injured horses – Consult with your veterinarian AND farrier together on how to best prepare your horse so he can be the most comfortable for the farrier session. And, let your farrier know about the issue(s). For a horse that cannot bend his knee/knees fully you can work with him to stand one front foot on a block while the other foot is being trimmed and worked on. It may take a little time to teach this ‘pedestal trick’ but it can make the farrier process easier for both your horse and your farrier.
Difficult and energetic horses – Turn out, lunge, or ride before the farrier session. Plan ahead! If your horse has been in the stall all night, get to the barn early enough to burn off that extra energy via exercise rather than expecting your farrier to provide stellar workmanship on a moving target!
Very difficult horses — Make a plan well in advance. Talk to both your veterinarian AND farrier for the best approach. NEVER sedate your horse for farrier work without your farrier’s knowledge. Keep everyone safe! Be honest, but do not belabor the point, if your horse has behavioral issues during farrier work – let your farrier know ahead so that he/she can be prepared. In between farrier visits, work with your trainer to resolve the issues.
- A covered area (rain or shine) is optimal, with level and dry footing.
- Good lighting is very important. Set up additional lamps if regular lighting is not sufficient.
- Fans can help keep the air circulating; however, if the fan is too strong or at the wrong angle it can throw dust in your farrier’s eyes, etc.
- Clear the work area of obstacles and debris. Reduce, or better, eliminate traffic of people, dogs, cats, other horses, and vehicles (golf carts, gators, etc.).
- Avoid deliveries like feed and hay.
- If farrier work is unavoidable during feeding time, giving your horse a handful of grain, while the others are being fed, may de-escalate the situation.
- Set your phone down! The farrier session is NOT the time to multi-task! Help keep your farrier and your horse safe. If your farrier gets hurt, then usually he/she cannot work.
- Do not feed treats while the farrier is working on your horse. Your horse will be distracted and may not keep his feet where they need to be.
Have your horse prepared, you have an appointment, so be sure that you and your horse are organized. Do not expect your farrier to catch the horse! He/she is a farrier, not barn help.
Run a light brush or towel over your horse, no need to groom for the show ring; however, your farrier will appreciate not getting slimed and grimed. But do NOT bathe your horse right before the farrier comes! Wet horse legs make your farrier wet.
Do not oil the feet, and when fly spray is needed use a non-greasy/non-oily spray. Yep, a perfect time for that cheaper fly spray or some of the home remedies. Greasy/oily legs make the farrier’s tools slippery, difficult to use and unsafe.
Such a simple idea, but often overlooked – have you asked your farrier for his/her preferences? This may seem superfluous, especially if you have been working with your farrier for quite a while, but when was the last time you asked what he/she prefers regarding work space, lighting, airflow, cross-tied or held, etc.? While you are at it, offer him/her something to drink — water or coffee/tea.
And, be sure to pay at the time of service; you know the appointment is coming and should plan accordingly. Your farrier is a small business owner and has already paid for the materials and tools used on your horse. Just pay at the time of service.
Lastly, do not tell your farrier how to do his/her job; you hired a professional, let him/her work.