Horse Health

The Farrier’s Secret: The Mare Agreement

Photographic evidence that Haley is functional. Sometimes. ©Nancy Rich-Gutierrez

Clients with horses acting naughty often make comments about how our own horses must be so good, since they’re handled by a professional farrier all the time.

Here’s the truth—a farrier’s own horses are at the bottom of the list of “horses that need to be done,” and working on their bad behavior is probably the last thing any farrier wants to do at the end of a long day.

As the wife/office worker, I should be the one to work on the bad behavior, especially when the problem horse is mine. But I kinda feel like I married a farrier for a reason. Namely, free hoof care. Plus, I don’t like to be kicked. Anyway, so everyone else can stop feeling badly about their troublemakers, here’s the story of my husband’s most favorite horse on his schedule—Haley.

I bred Haley, so I’ve had her since day one. I imprinted her as a foal, and for a couple years, she really was pretty good for the farrier. (Okay. She was okay for the farrier).

Such a cute baby! ©Nancy Rich-Gutierrez
Such a cute baby! Photo provided by Nancy Rich-Gutierrez

She was opinionated since she arrived, then she grew up to be THAT MARE. The one that gives mare-kind a bad name. I deserved this, as I was THAT person who had amazing mares growing up and actually enjoyed riding and owning mares. I still do, but this mare does give one pause when criticizing people that hate all mares. I get it now, people, I really do.

Anyway, Haley has been in my life since before Andres and he is well aware that he’s stuck with her. She’s beautiful and she is athletic, when she wants to be. But honestly, if we ever sold her they’d probably bring her back. Her nicknames at boarding barns have varied from “Princess” to “Dragon Horse” depending on the day.

So pretty. So evil. ©Nancy Rich-Gutierrez
So pretty. So evil. ©Nancy Rich-Gutierrez

Haley and Andres have a tentative truce in place regarding her hooves. She must have front shoes, as she is very delicate and prefers not to walk on rocks/gravel/sand/shavings when barefoot. She stays barefoot behind because she prefers not to have him hammering on her back hooves and she has impeccable aim with them. She’s really small, so I’ve tried to convince him that it’s just a tickle when she kicks him, but he doesn’t believe me.

The agreement that Andres and Haley have come to in regards to her being shod include:

  1. He will not touch her backend or flanks above the hock in any way and, in exchange, she will allow him to trim her back hooves. If she feels she absolutely must kick, she promises not to aim for his head.
  2. A third party must be present to hold her halter when he is working on her front feet. In exchange, she will not bite his back (as long as said third party is paying attention and keeping her mouth away from him). If third party is not up to the task, Haley will not be held responsible for any ensuing teeth marks.
  3. He will have her custom-forged shoes made and ready-to-go before she is brought out, so as not to keep her standing around for too long. If he must make adjustments to the shoes, he is aware that she reserves the right to be fidgety.

So, don’t feel too bad if your horses are naughty for the farrier. He has similar pacts with some client horses, but only if he knows that the owner is doing their best to make the situation better. I only get a pass on that part because he has to live with me.

About the Author

Nancy Rich-Gutierrez is an IT professional and manages her husband’s farrier company. When she’s not busy with her full-time job or running the office for her farrier, she’s chasing their two-year-old and riding her Arabian horses. Check out the HG Horseshoeing blog at


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