Aside from you – the person who loves and cares for your horse more than anything, there are a few other people in his life that are also very important to his well-being. One of these is the person who works tirelessly to keep your horse sound with healthy feet, your farrier.
Good farriers are hard to find, sometimes even impossible. When you find a great farrier who takes the best care of your horse, you want to do everything you can to keep him coming back. Following these suggestions – that came directly from a farrier with over 60 years of experience – will make it easier to keep your farrier and your horse happier.
Regular Hoof Maintenance
Keep your horse’s feet cleaned out, especially around the frog. Be sure to check the hooves often for foreign objects such as pebbles, nails, packed dirt and such. Don’t just wait until your farrier is coming or you have a trip planned, this is regular maintenance.
Hoof dressing is your friend. Use it regularly to keep your horse’s hooves moisturized and supple. Be sure to apply it up to and around the coronet band as well.
Nutritional supplements really do make a difference. Biotin, other minerals and vitamins aid in hoof growth and hardness.
Make your horse’s hoof health a priority. If he can’t walk, he’s not going to be much good to you.
Keep your horse from foundering. Founder affects both short and long-term soundness and can shorten your horse’s useful life.
Don’t let your horse’s hooves get too long. They can break and crack when too long of a time passes between trims or shoeing.
When you notice a loose or pulled shoe, call the farrier. Waiting just puts your horse at risk of damaging the hoof further if nails are left in or there is an injury to the frog. They can also get a foot hung up in a fence if the shoe only partially comes off.
Courtesy and Safety Issues
- Don’t wash or rinse your horse right before the farrier’s visit. You don’t like to be pressed up against a steaming wet horse, so don’t expect your farrier to do it either. Trying to hold onto a slippery foot can also make it more difficult for him to do his job. If you absolutely have to bathe your horse, either dry him completely or do it early enough for him to dry naturally.
- Common courtesy and safety issues for your farrier’s visit include:
- Having someone available to catch and hold the horse while being shod. Don’t expect your farrier to chase your horse to all corners of the pasture. Trying to shoe a wiggling horse that is jumping around is unsafe and frustrating.
- Keeping the horse under control at all times and not allowing him to annoy the farrier. The horse’s licking and chewing on the farrier is not cute, is not enjoyable and it can become dangerous if the horse tries to bite the farrier.
- Ensuring dogs, other pets and children are kept under control – preferably away from the area, when your farrier is trying to work. No matter how calm a horse usually is, noise and commotion can easily set it off and create a dangerous situation for everyone involved.
Good Horse Sense
Talk to your farrier. Discuss with him the different disciplines and events that you will be using your horse in. Different angles and shoes are used based on what you’re doing with your horse. Knowing what you’re expecting your horse to do will allow your farrier to shoe him with that in mind.
Keep these things in mind when you schedule your farrier’s next visit. Farriers tend to be horse-lovers themselves and only want what’s best for your horse. Keeping your favorite farrier happy and the lines of communication open are the easiest way to ensure he can do his best job. Of course, a plate of cookies can help sweeten the deal too.