Long-suffering advocates for our horses’ welfare, farriers certainly have a few horror stories to tell. Here are some simple ways to make your farrier’s life a little easier
We all think we have the world’s best farrier, but how many of them would say the same about their clients? By doing your homework between visits, you’ll keep your horse’s hooves in top condition as well as making your farrier’s life a little easier. Farriers David Hall and Marc Jerram share what your farrier might be thinking – even if they’re too polite to say it out loud…
- In recent years it’s become more common for owners to bring their horses in from the field, hose or brush their legs off to keep them looking smart. However, it’s important to go one step further and pick out the feet, too. It might not feel so important in the summer, when there’s less mud to compact, but a build-up of mud or stones can happen year-round. Not only can this be detrimental to the structures within your horse’s hooves but if left, cavities can form, potentially leading to abscesses.
- Lost shoes don’t have to be an inevitable part of horse ownership – in a lot of cases, they can be prevented. Frequent shoe pulling is an issue that can be addressed by giving a bit of consideration to your horse’s temperament – if your horse travels poorly, likes to have a hoon around the field (those often left without a field-mate tend to be the worst offenders), invest in a pair of overreach boots and watch your troubles disappear!
Fencing the corners of your field at a 45° angle can help if your horse often pulls shoes off by galloping into a corner, stopping and turning quickly. Unless he’s especially acrobatic, he won’t consider this a viable option.
- Be aware of changing weather conditions and how they can affect your horse’s feet. He may well grow more horn in April and September, so organise with your farrier a shorter shoeing cycle. Be proactive in dry weather and ask for your farrier’s recommendation for a hoof dressing that you can apply to prevent cracking, rather than trying to fix it once it’s already happened.
- Biting insects send your horse into a frenzy? You can guarantee they won’t give him a break during your farrier’s visits, so stop the stamping by investing in a high-quality fly spray and put on a fly rug to keep him more comfortable while being shod. You can’t expect him to stand nicely for your farrier while he’s being eaten alive, but it’s not fair to your farrier if you can’t keep him quiet!
- A little bit of respect goes a long way. Your farrier works a long, often-unsociable shift, and that’s without out-of-hours and pre-hunt meet emergency callouts. While a cup of tea or coffee, biscuits or a breakfast roll might be a welcome treat, at the very least, common decency dictates you should pay on the day! Whether it’s in cash or by BACS, your farrier runs a business and it’s only right he shouldn’t have to chase you for this.
Your farrier plays such a vital role in keeping your horse on the road, it’s well worth the investment to keep him happy. Not only does a good working relationship make life easier and more pleasant for you, it’ll ensure your horse is well looked-after, too.