Teamwork makes the dream work – 10 tips for a great relationship with your farrier

No hoof, no horse is a fact of life, and to keep our horse’s hooves in the best health possible, most horse owners take advantage of several farrier services. Your farrier plays a big part in maintaining your horse’s soundness and therefore a good relationship is a key part of your horse care routine.

1. Make sure your horse is ready when your farrier arrives

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There is nothing worse for a farrier than a horse with wet and mucky feet! Make sure your horse’s feet are clean, dry and picked out for when your farrier appointment is scheduled. Do not put any hoof oil or balm on the hooves on the day of your farrier visit.

If you do not attend yourself, make sure yard staff are informed about the scheduled farrier visit, so your horse can be in the stable when the farrier arrives.

2. Respect the schedule

A farrier’s life is a busy life, with many doing up to 15 horses a day, so you can only imagine how much chaos last minute calls and cancellations can cause! Make sure you stick to a regular schedule and call early if you need to make any changes. If your horse has a problem between scheduled visits, such as lost shoe or an injury, call your farrier right away to arrange whatever is needed.

3. Control the environment

For many horses, a farrier visit is routine, but for some it is stressful, particularly for youngsters that don’t yet have much experience with the farrier. A busy yard will only add to the stress, so make sure you find a quiet spot where you can control the environment while your horse is being trimmed or shod.

We all know that dogs love eating bits of trimmed hoof. However, it’s a good idea to avoid allowing dogs around your horse’s feet, as this will not only irritate your horse, but also disturb your farrier as the dog runs under the horse to catch his piece of ‘cake’!

Avoid positioning your horse where they may see other horses in movement (e.g., horses running in fields or exercising in the arena). Horses are herd animals after all, and if your horse senses other horses on the run, it is likely to cause stress.

Do not groom, pull manes or do anything that could irritate your horse while your farrier is working.

4. Keep calm

Some horses may need a little help to stay calm and keep everyone safe during the farrier visit. If your horse gets extremely stressed and you feel may cause harm to you or your farrier, talk to your vet about a calmer or sedation.

You can train your horse between cycles and prepare for the next visit by holding up legs for longer, moving in a similar way to your farrier around the hooves and stretching legs. This can help your horse to realise that there is nothing unusual happening during the farrier visit.

Do not stand in front of your horse and give them treats during the visit. This can create a begging habit which can make it harder for your farrier to work, as horses are likely to paw and beg once the treats are gone.

5. Ask questions and take advice

Go with the flow. Most farriers are up for a good chat, so if you feel that is the case take it and chat away. If you feel he is stressed and busy, keep conversation down to the necessities. If you have questions for your farrier – ASK.

There is no such thing as a stupid question and your priority should be to communicate and get open questions out of the way, for your own sake. Take the advice your farrier gives you and monitor progress so you can report back at the next appointment.

If you would like to discuss a new equine podiatry solution such as FormaHoof, speak openly about it. Do your research before bringing it up, however, and be prepared with the information your farrier may need. Keeping an open line of communication will help your owner-farrier relationship.

6. Do your homework – Maintain good Hoof Care between visits

Maintaining good hoof care practices between farrier visits is key, including daily hoof picking and additional care to help prevent or aid recovery from hoof damage, disease, or injuries.

If you neglect your horse’s feet between visits, there is only so much your farrier can do. It is the responsibility of every horse owner to maintain the feet in the best possible way between farrier visits.

7. Connect the dots - look out for changes in your horse’s feet

Inspect your horse’s feet daily, checking for damage and abnormalities. If you notice a minor change, keep an eye on it until the next scheduled visit and discuss it with your farrier. If you notice major changes, injuries, cracks, or lameness, connect the dots and speak to your farrier or vet (depending on your findings).

Your farrier and vet should be your go-to solution for major hoof related problems. Creating a circle of trust with your farrier and vet is key to keeping your horse sound, healthy and performing to the best of their ability.

8. Be loyal - Build up a relationship and stay with your farrier

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Loyalty is key to a trusting relationship with your farrier. Think about yourself, do you change your dentist, doctor, or even your hairdresser with every appointment? Probably not. Instead, you build a relationship based on trust in their work and qualifications. The same applies to a good owner – farrier relationship and changing your farrier frequently will not help your horse’s hoof development.

With no consistency, farriers cannot build a routine to progressively improve your horse’s hoof quality. Furthermore, who do you call in case of an emergency? Do you really expect someone who trimmed or shod your horse once to come and sort your problem at short notice? You may be lucky in some cases, but you shouldn’t expect loyalty if you are not willing to be loyal.

9. Pay your farrier promptly

Always try to pay your farrier on the day work is carried out. Most farriers are self-employed and rely on their clients’ payments to pay their own bills. In some yards, you may find farrier post boxes where you can deposit payment if you’re not around, or you can arrange to leave the payment in a secure location, or with the stable hand that attends the farrier visit for you. Just make sure your farrier is paid in a timely manner for the work done.

10. Be polite, friendly and be a good host

Be friendly with your farrier (and everyone else) and clean up any droppings as soon as they happen. If you’re not likely to be around during the visit, you should provide a broom or manure scoop.

If you are around, be a good host by asking your farrier if they want a coffee, tea, or water. You would be surprised how much of a difference it can make.

Last but not least….

Stuff Riders Say…to Farriers…. Can you see yourself in this video?

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