Farriers are essential professionals who care for your horse’s hooves by trimming and shoeing them, ensuring your horse’s comfort and overall health.
Building a positive relationship with your farrier is important, as it can lead to better care for your horse and a smoother working relationship.
1) Be punctual
Always be on time for your scheduled appointments. Farriers often have tight schedules, and being late can disrupt their day and inconvenience other clients.
If your horse is finicky or unused to the farrier, talk it over with your farrier before the visits, and schedule extra time if needed.
2) Communicate well
Open and clear communication is key. Discuss your horse’s specific needs, any issues, and your expectations with your farrier. Be receptive to their advice and expertise.
3) Provide a clean, safe workspace
Ensure the area where the farrier will work is clean and well-lit. This not only makes the job easier for the farrier but also contributes to the safety of both the horse and the farrier.
This includes having a place to wash their hands, as working with horse hooves is not a clean job.
Usually, your farrier will have a headlamp of their own, but having an extra one at hand is always a good idea.
Be prepared to pick up poop and help sweep up as the farrier works to keep the working area clean.
If it’s a hot day, see if you can set up a fan where the work is being done. This will give patience to both your horse and your farrier.
4) Train your horse for the farrier
Make sure your horse is well-behaved and trained for the farrier. This includes teaching them to stand still and lift their hooves when asked.
Aggressive or unruly horses can make the farrier’s job more difficult and dangerous.
If you’ve got a draft horse that gets trimmed and shod in the stocks, train your horse to stand in the stocks before the farrier arrives.
As an extra bonus, train your horse to rest hooves on a hoof stand. This will help take weight off the farrier’s body while working.
5) Consider your horse’s energy before the farrier visit
If your horse is rested and fed, that might not be the best time to have the farrier over.
Instead, try to tucker your horse out with some exercise beforehand, if your horse gets antsy standing for the farrier. Some horses will stand quietly if offered a hay net, but check with your farrier.
Training your horse to stand for treatment is the primary goal.
6) Regular maintenance
Stick to a regular trimming and shoeing schedule as recommended by your farrier. This helps prevent serious hoof issues and makes their job more manageable.
If your horse lost a shoe and you have to call your farrier in for an emergency visit, save the shoe that came off (if you can find it). In some cases, this can help your farrier assess the condition of the hoof and the circumstance in which the shoe came off.
7) Clean and dry hooves
Before the farrier arrives, clean your horse’s hooves and ensure they are dry.
Mud and debris can make the job harder and less precise. If the weather is wet and the ground is muddy, bring in your horse a few hours before the farrier arrives to let the hooves dry.
If your farrier has provided special instructions to follow prior to farrier visits, such as soaking dry hooves, follow those instructions instead.
8) Respect their expertise
Farriers are trained professionals with extensive knowledge of equine hoof care. Trust their judgment and respect their recommendations.
Your farrier can often tell you if getting a chiropractor to come visit is a good idea (it’s never a bad idea), but if your horse has some issue with the hooves, this will affect how they move and how their body is balanced.
9) Pay promptly
Pay your farrier on time and in the agreed-upon manner. Prompt payment is a sign of respect for their work and helps maintain a good working relationship.
10) Ask for a group discount
Check with other horses/horse owners at your yard to see when they need the farrier.
If your farrier can handle several horses at the same location in one session, you can discuss a group discount with your farrier as they don’t have to travel as much or as many times with a group booking.
Similarly, if you have a horse that needs sedation to have work done, try to schedule as many professionals to come at the same time so that the important care can get done. Then you can work on training your horse for future visits.
11) Keep an up-to-date first aid kit
Working with horses is always a risk, and having a fully stocked and up-to-date first aid kit on-site will make sure any scrapes or cuts can be dealt with immediately.
I like to include pliable cold packs, usable for both people and horses, as well as single-use self-heating pads (the large kind that you put on your back for aches and pains) because I’ve known many a farrier that gets sore in the back, especially when the weather is chilly, and will gladly accept that extra heat to limber up their back.
12) Keep a log of hoof issues
If there’s something noteworthy, it’s good to have a note of it in a journal.
If your horse’s hooves are good and just require basic maintenance and re-shoeing, there may not be any use in keeping a log.
But if your horse shows any signs of issues in the feet, write it down so you know when symptoms first started, and how the treatment is progressing.
13) Provide refreshments
While not obligatory, offering a drink or a snack can be a nice gesture, especially if your farrier is working on multiple horses at your location.
If you’ve got your farrier over lunch or for a full day, buy them a lunch. They work hard to keep your horses healthy and functional.
On hot days, having cold water or some electrolyte drinks or powder handy will make all the difference for someone doing a physically hard job.
14) Express appreciation
A simple “thank you” and expressing your gratitude for their work can go a long way in building a positive relationship with your farrier.
Remember that farriers are dedicated professionals who care about the well-being of your horse.
Building a good relationship with them not only benefits your horse but also ensures that they will be more willing to go the extra mile in providing quality hoof care.
Farriery is a hard job physically and their expertise is invaluable. A good farrier is worth their weight in gold, so make sure you keep them happy.