You’ve perfected your communication with your farrier. You’ve taught your horse to behave for his pedicure. You always pick his hooves.
Now, you’re ready to take your relationship with your hoof care professional to the next level. You’re ready to go from just being on his (or her) good side to being on the favorite client list.
The quickest way to make your farrier happy isn’t having a high-dollar show horse or a fancy facility. It’s making sure he can work SAFELY. Two major causes of accidents around horses are distractions and shortcuts. You get comfortable, you tune out the chaos, you get a little lazy, you’re not paying attention, and suddenly, someone is headed to the emergency room. Don’t let it happen at your farm!
Here are some advanced techniques to ensure that everyone is kept safe and you’re ALWAYS your farrier’s favorite client:
1. Contain other animals
Don’t allow other horses to be within reach of the horse being worked on. Corral the pet goat. Manage the farm dogs. (Yes, they love to eat hoof clippings, but they can wait to have them until all four of the horse’s feet are on the floor.) Keep the children in check. Your farrier only wants to worry about one critter at a time.
2. Keep traffic to a minimum
Don’t sneak another horse past the horse your farrier is working on in the aisleway. (And never sneak horses under crossties that are fastened to a horse, period.) Don’t lead the BFF of the horse being shod into and out of sight. Plan to clean the stalls after the farrier leaves.
3. Postpone dinner
For the love of all that is good in this world, please do not start feeding the rest of the herd while your farrier is still working on a horse. Don’t even “just prepare” the feed or “just dump” the new feed in the bins in the feed room. It causes even the best behaved horse to be distracted and fidgety.
4. Pay attention
Stay near your horse’s head and correct him before he causes trouble. Stand where you can see your farrier working but are not in his way if he needs to move away from your horse quickly. Remember your showmanship quarters—that’s a good guideline for which side of the horse you should stand on (if the farrier is working on a front foot, stand on the opposite side of the horse. If he’s working on a hind foot, stand on the same side).
5. Dress for the occasion
No one wants to have to dial 911 when you lose a toe because you were catching your horse in flip flops. Closed toe shoes only around horses, please! But no steel toes, either—the edge of the steel can act like a knife if your horse steps on it just right and bends it into your foot. You’d be surprised how often an injured owner causes delays during a farrier appointment, and a footwear-related one is totally avoidable. As for the rest of your wardrobe—think it through and make good choices. Enough said.
Some of these rules may seem like common sense, but it’s easy for any of us to forget when we’re in a hurry or running behind. I promise you, though, your farrier will appreciate it when he knows going to your farm will be a minimal-distraction environment!
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.