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					                                                             focus on farriery
                                                                                                                                       PART 1

The Farrier’s Role in Horse Hoof Care
A farrier’s responsibilities, how to find a good farrier, and how to keep him or her

By Tom InczewskI, cJF,
wITH cHrIsTy wesT

          ithout sound feet, a horse is han­
          di capped at best. Fortunately,
          regular maintenance by a skilled
farrier (often called a horseshoer/black­
smith), along with good management by
his owner, can keep most horses sound
throughout their lives. Just like preventive
maintenance on your car or routine medi­
cal visits for your kids, an ounce of preven­
tion is truly worth a pound of cure.
   Equine feet, just like humans’, vary from
horse to horse and even foot to foot on the
same horse. What each animal needs to
maintain optimal health and balance de­
pends on many factors, including genetics,
diet, exercise, environment, and previous
hoof care strategies. A good farrier can
provide the information and work you
need to keep your horses’ hooves sound so
the animal can perform at his peak.
   What will the farrier do? Your farrier
will start by evaluating the foot’s current
state to see what work needs to be done,
then he or she will trim the foot, balanc­
ing it to the horse’s needs. For many hors­
es, particularly those at pasture or in very
light work, this is all that’s needed. But                                                                                                            Pam mackenzIe

depending on your horse’s job, he might
also need shoes for protection, to treat/
                                                A good farrier can provide the information and work you need to keep your horses’ hooves sound.
manage a hoof problem, or he might need
special shoes for his job (for example,         help enhance or preserve soundness.                  shoeing every five to six weeks, the back­
high­level jumping and draft horses often          How often does the farrier need to see            yard horse will often do fine with a visit ev­
need shoes with added traction, but rein­       my horse? That depends on the horse’s                ery two months, and at the other end of the
ing horses need minimal traction on the         job, conformation, health status, and hoof           spectrum, horses that need therapeutic
hind feet to let them do sliding stops).        growth rate (which can be much quicker               shoes for foot problems such as laminitis
   Your farrier should keep your horse on       in active, well­fed competition horses than          or club feet might need a trim and reset ev­
a reliable schedule with an individualized      pasture potatoes). A show horse often needs          ery three to four weeks. Ultimately, every
trimming/shoeing plan. He/she should
make you immediately aware of any prob­               UPCOMING TOPICS
lems, be open to questions, and might also            OCTOBER           Hoof Care Facts & Fiction—A Farrier’s Guide to Avoiding Gimmickry
suggest changes to management practices               DECEMBER          Winterizing: Cold Weather Hoof Care Recommendations
(such as more frequent hoof/stall cleaning            FEBRUARY          Feeding Your Horse’s Feet
or changes to stall/arena footing) that can           APRIL             Spring & Seasonal Founder: Lush Pasture Risks

The horse     TheHorse.com                                                                                                                        1
        FOCUS ON FARRIERY                 PART 1

      horse is different and your farrier can tell                                                                         full. Start by having your horse nearby on
      you after a couple of visits what the best                                                                           time (not at the other end of the pasture!),
      schedule will be.                                                                                                    brushing his legs and feet clean, and pick­
         How do I find the right farrier? Choos­                                                                           ing out his feet. Because the farrier’s job
      ing a farrier is a very individual decision.                                                                         can be dangerous, provide a safe (i.e., not
      To start with, there is no requirement in                                                                            cramped), flat, dry, clean, well­lit place for
      the United States for one to be licensed to                                                                          him/her to work. Also, your horse needs
      work as a farrier. Thus, anyone can market                                                                           to be trained to pick up his feet and stand
      him­ or herself as a farrier. There are many                                                                         quietly for foot work; it’s not your farrier’s
      farrier schools around the country, but                                                                              job to train him, just to work on his feet. A
      their offerings vary widely from courses                                                                             calm and cooperative horse will make for
      a few weeks long to multi­year programs.                                                                             the best possible outcome every time.

                                                                                                          Paula da sIlva
      There are also very good (and not so good)                                                                              You’ll also want to properly feed your
      farriers who didn’t go to school at all,                                                                             horse, as his diet can significantly affect
      learning instead from the school of hard           Your farrier should make you immediately aware                    his hoof health. Part 4 of this series will
      knocks under another farrier. Some far­            of any problems and be open to your questions.                    focus on nutrition and hoof soundness.
      rier groups, such as the American Farrier’s                                                                             You will likely work more often and
      Association or Brotherhood of Working              soundness after a few visits, and not just                        more closely with your farrier than any
      Farriers Association, offer voluntary cer­         his low prices! There are normally at least                       other professional who touches your hors­
      tification programs by which farriers can          a couple of farriers serving a given area, so                     es. Take the time to research and find the
      prove that they have certain levels of skill.      do your research on the candidates and try                        right farrier, and be a good client for him/
         Other horse owners and trainers in your         them out until you find the right one.                            her, and your horse ownership will be far
      area might offer recommendations of lo­               What does a farrier expect from me?                            more enjoyable for all three of you. h
      cal farriers; be sure that they are happy          The owner’s responsibility to the farrier                            Further reading and free lameness
      with the farrier’s work and their horses’          doesn’t just include prompt payment in                            e-newsletter: www.TheHorse.com/hoof

                  FarrierArticleAd063010.pdf   6/30/10    7:39:06 PM

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      The horse     TheHorse.com                                                                                                                                       2

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