In part 1, I talked about some of the things that will put you on your farrier’s good client list. Here, I’m going to give you some hints on making your horse one of his favorites, too.
No matter how many cookies you bring him, if your horse is impossible to work with, your farrier will not want to come back—and rightly so. His job is dangerous, and courts have sided with the clients when a farrier has been hurt or killed working on a horse. What that means for you is that your farrier has been empowered to turn down work that he feels has a high risk of injury.
Your farrier honestly doesn’t care whether you have a high-dollar show horse or a backyard pet. He’s more concerned with maintaining good hoof health and his own safety. To get your horse on his list of favorites, make sure your horse:
1. Is approachable and easily haltered
And you have a way to have him contained before the appointment.
2. Allows touching all over his body*
Your farrier has to get underneath your horse, and that can mean he’ll brush up on the horse’s flanks, hip, tail, etc. A horse that reacts negatively to any of these things needs to learn to stand quietly and allow touching.
3. Stands patiently for long periods of time
It could be up to 30 minutes for a simple trim, possibly an hour and a half for specialty shoeing. Those time periods are probably on the long side for an experienced farrier, but it’s better you don’t reach the end of your horse’s capability while your farrier is still working.
4. Is easy to restrain
Whether you tie, cross-tie, or have a handler hold the horse will depend on a variety of factors, but the bottom line is any horse should know how to do all 3 reliably, for his own safety and those around him.
5. Allows all four legs to be picked up
As well as pulled somewhat to the side, behind, and in front (keeping in mind any arthritis/tendon/ligament limitations, particularly on older horses), and quietly accepts scraping, brushing, and light pounding on the bottoms and sides of his hooves. Even if you think you’ll never put shoes on your horse, lightly tapping his hooves is one more way of getting him used to strange sensations and will help a lot if he ever needs any kind of treatment for an injury or problem.
Most of these skills just take time on your part, working with your horse a little bit every day. Get him doing those five things reliably, and he will be well on his way to being the farrier’s favorite!
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 hghorseshoeing.com.