Tips on Choosing a Farrier
Choosing a Quality Farrier
Farrier's Association's publications
for horse owners, "Choosing
a Quality Farrier," maintains that
choosing a farrier to provide hoof care for your
horse is one of the most important decisions you
will make as a horse owner for the well being of
your horse. You should choose your farrier in a systematic
and educated manner to assure that you will obtain
the services of a farrier who will best fit your
needs and the needs of your horse.
You should choose your farrier by doing proper research.
Having done your homework will help to assure that you
will be able to obtain the services of a farrier who will
best fit your needs and the needs of your horse. The use
of only price or availability as a guideline may lead to
unsatisfactory work, and is best avoided.
An investigation of
a potential farrier’s background and education, experience,
professional association and personal attributes will help
you make the right decision.
Don't Wait Until an Emergency
It is important not to wait until there is an emergency
arises, when your horse must be shod by a farrier who happens
to be available on short notice. The most experienced and
best trained farriers often have a full schedule of clientele
and maintain a waiting list of owners who are interested
in having them provide farriery care for their horses.
Ask for References
Ask other horseowners, particularly those who have horses
similar to yours in breed and usage. Remember, there are
many different types of special shoeing requirements. Manyfarriers
specialize in one type of horse, and while they may shoe
other types of horses, their best work is done in their
specialty. Many horse owners are satisfied with a farrier
who is inexpensive, or is a friend, or a nice person, rather
than because of their skill and knowledge about their profession.
Doctors of Veterinary Medicine, especially those who are
equine practitioners and members of the American Association
of Equine Practitioners are another excellent source of
information. Don’t be afraid to ask potential farriers
about the type and variety of their experience as farriers,
and their approach to their work and clients. In addition
to checking out the potential farrier's background, his
skill and knowledge level, you need to feel comfortable
to be able to communicate with the farrier. The pamphlet
also addresses the client's responsibilities in order to
keep a quality farrier.
the AFA article (2
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Finding a Good Farrier © Ray
I tried to call my farrier yesterday,
but couldn't reach him. His phone is disconnected and
none of my friends know where he has gone. So I called
my neighbor, and he is going to trim my horse's feet,
and he will only charge me five bucks. Anyway, that other
guy wasn't so great; he was too expensive and never on
time. I think I've got a better deal this way.
One of the most common complaints among horse
owners is their inability to find a "good" farrier. They
charge too much, are always late or breaking appointments,
and don't listen to you when you tell them what you want
are many of the objections to their talent or behavior.
Those of us happy with our farriers keep quiet for fear
that if he or she gets too many new clients we will lose
him. Unfortunately, not enough horse owners really understand
what constitutes a good farrier and how to find or keep
one. And believe me, if you find a truly good farrier,
you will want to keep him. With some careful thought and
consideration, every one of us can find a farrier we can
work with and will contribute to the well-being of our
Most of us have heard the old axiom, "No
foot, no horse." But despite how much biotin we supplement
into the animal's feed or how religious we are about applying
the hoof dressings, if the foot is not balanced and trimmed
properly for the horse's conformation, the rest is inadequate.
This is why a knowledgeable farrier is so essential to
your horse's performance and comfort. Not enough of us,
though, give this professional his due.
The first step toward a healthy hoof and
reaching this utopia of horseshoeing is finding the professional with
whom we can work. "Professional" is stressed for a reason;
too often, horse owners hire an individual who works in
this field only part time. You are not doing yourself,
your horse, or the industry any good with this practice.
Full-time farriers have much more invested in their profession
than the person who buys a pair of nippers and a rasp and
sets out after work to knock out a few horses for extra
cash. The professional farrier invests in a full inventory
of quality supplies, pursues further education in farrier
science and may be certified and belong to one or more
farrier associations. In almost every case, he will be
much more knowledgeable about his or her work than the
Finding this individual may be more difficult
than calling the guy down the road, but will pay off in
many ways. To start your search, check the classified ads
in the horse section of your local paper. Many farriers
advertise their business there. When you reach him, have
prepared a list of questions regarding his business and
expertise. Do not be shy about asking for his history working
with horses, e.g., how long, what types of horses, and
where he learned his profession. Watch for key phrases
such as, "I apprenticed under," and others that suggest
a serious attitude toward education. Those who apprentice
usually work under a talented and well-established farrier,
and the potential for learning is great in that situation.
Also ask for references. The full-time farrier will have
an extensive list of clients, either individual horse owners
or barns, and should be willing to offer names for recommendations.
But be ready to ask these references some questions; don't
take anyone's word as absolute truth.
Another place to inquire is with other knowledgeable horse
industry professionals. Ask tack store owners, trainers
and instructors whom they use and why. Be sure to ask many
people, though, and compare their comments. Personality
clashes are not unheard of in the horse world, so keep
that in mind when listening to opinions. Again, be active
in your search; ask questions. Once you have some names
start narrowing the field, and make a responsible choice
based on facts and solid consideration.
A third option is to talk with some local
horse veterinarians. During their day they see many horses
and are well placed to observe the hoof condition of these
animals. The vets have the opportunity to evaluate the
farrier's work and often will get to know the individuals
themselves. They can usually recommend a competent individual
to work on your horse. Also, in many cases, the vet will
take the initiative and point their clients toward a particular
farrier, particularly if the horse needs corrective or
Hopefully you have now found a farrier who
meets your horse's needs. The next goal is to understand
his position. Since he is (here's that word again) a professional,
his schedule and price will vary from that of the part-timer.
Let's first discuss how best to get your horse booked with
The farrier who practices his profession
full time will have a busy schedule; do not expect to call
and receive an appointment the next day. Monitor the growth
of your horse's hooves and try to call a week or two before
a trim or shoeing becomes necessary. The farrier will appreciate
this consideration, since it allows him to book clients
together in a given area and prepare an organized schedule.
Remember, too, that he is working all day with many horses;
try to be considerate and avoid asking him to work all
night, as well. Although their days are rarely nine to
five or Monday through Friday, as clients we should try
to book whenever possible, according to a regular work
day. This means refraining from asking the farrier from
coming by in late evenings or at other times when most
people are not working. If you truly have an emergency
call don't hesitate to contact your farrier, but be prepared
to pay as you would an emergency vet call.
Since you have gone to all this trouble to
find a reliable professional, it is important at this point
to listen to what he says. If he makes suggestions regarding
hoof care, consider them carefully. As much as you may
know about horses, your farrier sees hundreds of horses
day in and day out, and has the chance to examine many
more animals and conditions than the average horse owner
ever will. Along with his education, this experience is
invaluable when evaluating what is best for your horse.
And do not always expect farriers to completely agree on
a proposed action. There is more than one way to approach
many situations, especially when dealing with corrective
work. Trust what he suggests and give his decision time
to work; more often than not, you will be pleased with
your horse's performance. Take advantage of his expertise.
So you have now found a qualified farrier
and you have booked appointments with him. You are satisfied
with his work and how he handles your horse. Now you want
to keep him. This will require more on
your part than previously, but if you are interested in
having the best care for your horse, it will be well worth
One of the easiest things you can do is be
accurate when you book your appointment. Be precise about
how many horses will need to be worked on, and have a good
idea of the type of work you want done. A big complaint
of farriers is arriving at a client's barn with two horses
booked and having five waiting. This throws their schedule
thoroughly off, and the rest of the day is spent trying
to catch up. The same problem arises when a client arranges
for her horse to be trimmed, yet, when the farrier arrives,
she decides instead to have the animal shod. A twenty minute
job becomes a sixty-minute one.
Next, you can show consideration for your
farrier's schedule. We have already covered when to request
your appointments (please, some evenings and weekends off),
but that does not always guarantee the appearance of your
farrier and the scheduled time. Unfortunately, the best-planned
days have the tendency to go wildly out of control. Do
not be surprised when the farrier is early or late, but
rarely on time. And don't be upset; those who work full
time with horses are always trying to coordinate time remaining
and "things to do." Not only does time get eaten up with
extra horses and work, but poor roads, poor directions,
and poor weather all conspire to make keeping a timetable
difficult. What you should expect, though, is some consideration
in return, and warning if your farrier is going to be late
or unable to keep the appointment. If he is consistently
very late or does not show without giving you notice, he
is not acting professionally. Courtesy goes both ways and
both of you should expect it and extend it. If an appointment
is canceled, your farrier should get you rescheduled as
soon as possible; but take an objective view of your horse's
condition. If his hooves can afford to wait a few days,
give the farrier that extra time to fit you in.
There are a few other habits you can adopt
that will go a long way toward making your barn a pleasant
stop. First, you will have well-mannered horses that are
properly trained to stand quietly while their feet are
handled. Unfortunately, not all of us own these paragons;
if you don't, let the farrier know in advance. These horses
invariably take longer to work with, and require a special
frame of mind. Be sure your farrier is experienced in working
with rough animals, and then be prepared to pay him for
his time and effort. Remember, he is risking serious injury
when working with those ill-behaved horses. Second, try
to have a clean and roomy area in which to work. This means
keeping all family critters-pets and kids alike- clear
of the area. Nice also is a protected place, one that is
shady in the summer and a wind-block in winter. Finally,
have your horses clean, free from mud, manure and dirt.
It is always a more pleasant stop when you can leave without
smelling too badly of thrush or manure.
The most important factor in keeping your
farrier is showing him loyalty. If you are constantly switching
farriers, never allowing one a consistent position with
your horse, you can hardly expect to head his client list.
If you only call for emergencies or to fix another farrier's
work, he will not be too anxious to fit you into his busy
schedule. The same holds true if you only use a farrier
for the busy summer riding months. He has plenty of business
this time of year and welcomes yours, but those who stay
loyal and have their horses attended during the other seven
months are sure to be appreciated and will be important
to him. Horses still need attending, and keeping their
feet is peak condition year 'round will benefit you during
the riding season; actually, both you and your farrier
Your horses are very important to you, and
any horse owner will admit that they are an expensive luxury.
Everything concerned with them is time- and cash-consuming,
and quality care is even more so. Don't skimp on foot care
thinking that it is less important, and don't pinch pennies
by hiring part-time and unprofessional farriers. Consistent
and excellent care will allow you to spend less in the
end, since maintenance is cheaper than correction. And
you will be supporting the horse industry, so that professionals
can remain full time and give you the knowledge of their
About Ray K. Miller, Jr.: 40
years full-time professional within the horse and cattle
industry. Master Farrier/Plater, Race Track License AZ, U.S.
Dept. of Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, ratings
of Master Farrier, Senior Packer/Wrangler, Senior Horse Specialist,
Senior Wild Horse Specialist. Colorado State Board of Colleges:
Teaching Credentials for Farrier Science, Equine Management,
Equine Science, Secondary, Post Secondary and Adult Education.
U.S. Forest Service Permitted Outfitter, License Outfitter
Guide Wisconsin. Former Licensed Outfitter and Guide, AZ,
CO, MT Lic. Member, American Farriers Assoc., Working Brotherhood
Farriers. Certified Expert Witness in Federal and State Court
System for Equine and Equine Related Legal Matters -- Arizona,
Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Texas, New York. Former Superintendent
at the American Royal, Livestock, ASHA Horse Show and PRCA
Rodeo 16 yrs. Former VP Equine Services at Resort Development
International 3 yrs., General Manager/Senior Wrangler/Packer
Rocky Mountain Outfitters, Glacier National Park 10 yrs.
Former owner of Spring Creek Ranches and Ute Peak Horse Center,
Colorado, Former Director of C & R Packing, Guiding and
Outfitting School, 8 yrs. Owner of commercial riding, outfitting
and packing stables and ranches in Arizona and Colorado.
I appreciate Jonathan Weiler for introducing
me to Ray Miller's articles.
To learn more about Farrier Industry-related Problems, read: http://www.wiwfarm.com/FarrierIndustry.htm
How Do I Tell
If My Farrier Is Doing A Good Job?
This is a question often asked by novice and experienced
horse owners alike. It is a difficult question to answer,
in much in the same way as it’s hard to answer the question “How
high is up?” There are many factors that influence the quality
of a farrier’s work. Knowledge, skill, experience, attitude,
working conditions, the horse itself can all influence the
quality of the work your farrier does.
the whole article
Do You Keep A Good Farrier?
That’s simple. Feed him cake and pay him lots of money.
Seriously – it’s a good question. Not so seriously – click here for
advice on how you and your farrier can endear yourselves
to each other.....
the whole article @ http://www.fairhillforge.com/happyfarrier.html