About Farriers and Hoof Care

hoofWhat do Farriers do?

Bryan Quinsey, the Executive Director of the American Farrier's Association, argues that farriers do not only shoe horses, they provide foot and hoof care for nearly 7-million horses in the United States.

He also asserts that "each one of these horses is literally one hoof away from success or failure, contentment or pain, life or death, and farriers are positioned to determine the difference." (Bryan Quinsey, AFA 34th Annual Convention)

According to the American Farrier's Association, "Choosing a farrier to provide hoof care for your horse is one of the most important decisions you will make for the well being of your horse. Improper hoof care can lead to injury and/or lameness, and may reduce your horse's ability to reach his full potential." (AFA, "Choosing a Farrier")


The Evolution of Farriery

by Judith Mulholland

Dr. Judith Mulholland, an Australian veterinarian and farrier, traces the Evolution of Farriery. She demonstrates with excellent images and narration what good farrier practice is all about: "leaving the horse sounder than you found it."

She explains why we shoe horses, elaborates on trimming theories, concluding with "The golden rule of veterinary medicine, farriery and trimming your own horse's feet is “first do no harm”, if your horse has bad feet, trim it “little and often”. I am confident that poor hooves can be dramatically improved by one years worth of good, regular farriery care; but, if that good farriery stops the hooves will revert to what ever problems they had previously if the hoof is predisposed to it by poor limb and foot conformation or environmental factors such as wet ground and poor diet. Naked and natural work best when a hoof is normal conformation or is slightly contracted. When a hoof is abnormal e.g., flat soled that must be dealt with first. A horse limping around with thin, prolapsed soles due to poor conformation, flat feet or neglected chronic laminitis and sole pressure is miserable and requires "professional" quality farriery to relieve the discomfort. In the short term shoes e.g., glue-on, nail-on, slip-on etc., or reconstruction techniques may be essential to give that animal comfort. Providing non painful answers to our farriery problems is our obligation as horse-owners, farriers and veterinarians. So the answer to this issue is yes, there is a lot of good in the core of trimming theories and natural horse ideals. But, beware of those who have got hold of some of the information and some of the principles and then try to baffle you with “bull-dust” and leave you with a horse that has been over-trimmed and is foot sore. Farriery is all about leaving the horse sounder than you found it."
(Judith Mulholland,

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