Choosing a Farrier–What You Must Know.

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Choosing a Farrier–What You Must Know.

Morgan Murphy

Choosing a Farrier–What You Must Know.

You have heard the old adage “no hoof, no horse.” Well, this is one of those horsey phrases that really rings true. Excellent hoof care, nutrition, and maintenance of the foot will help minimize some of the most common hoof issues affecting horses. Naturally, it cannot guarantee that your horse will never develop any problems, but it will give you a fighting chance. One of the most important things you can do for your horse is to ensure he is attended to on a regular basis by a highly experience and reputable farrier.

Professional workmanship is very important from a farrier*

Choosing the right farrier is an important decision. Many are extremely busy with very few openings, so selecting your farrier and booking as soon as you can is recommended to ensure your horse does not fall behind in his hoof care program. So, what should you look for when choosing the right farrier for your horse?

Discuss Your Farrier's Experience.

Unlike veterinarians, farriers do not have to complete a degree or certification to practice in the US– anyone can advertise and work in the industry. However, to carry out farriery, a wide knowledge of the horse is required. They must have a firm understanding of the anatomy of the horse, understand diseases that affect the hoof, and complete training to learn the techniques required to trim and shoe correctly. It is highly recommended that you select a farrier who has completed the American Farrier’s Association (AFA) certification program.

The AFA offers a certification program which spans many levels of competency.

The Internship level requires completion of a basic farriery anatomy exam.

The Certified Farrier (CF) requires a year of farrier experience and successful completion of the written exam, as well as a two part practical exam on standard and therapeutic techniques, such as remedial shoeing.

Following successful qualification as a farrier after earning CF status, the AFA offer a higher level certification, the AFA Certified Journeyman Farrier. To gain this higher level certification, the farrier must complete at least two years’ experience in the field and take a further advanced written test with practical exam, requiring the candidate to make and fit bar shoes to exacting standards.

It is highly recommended that you select a farrier who has completed their AFA certification. If you should need details on a farrier in your area, visit their website.

When making your first call to a farrier, there are some important questions you need to ask prior to booking an appointment. Make note of the answers you receive to ensure you both book correctly and follow protocol. Good farriers are often very busy and require advance notice for booking.

Some of the questions you should ask:

  • First–Are they accepting new clients? If the answer is no, you will need to go no further!
  • Explain the type of riding you do, your horse and the type of hoof care you have–i.e. barefoot trimming, reining plates, or hunter jumper shoeing. If you require maintenance of a particular condition, such as laminitis, you may wish to find a farrier with experience in this area.
  • Costs, how payment is taken and what to do in an emergency (for example, lost shoe or an abscess)
  • How to book–whether you need to schedule months in advance, book for the next appointment at the current visit, or if you can simply phone when you need them to visit.
  • Whether your farrier is affiliated to a veterinary practice in case therapeutic shoeing is required at some point.
  • It should be noted that many farriers give an estimated time of arrival–some may always be late and some may run on schedule. It is impossible to know this until you have had a few visits! It could be asked in a subtle way, such as whether the farrier has a busy schedule.

When your farrier first visits, it is important to make some observations to ensure you will be able to work together. Some things to look out for include:

  • Does the farrier work cleanly? Most farriers pride themselves on a clean and tidy truck and keeping their workspace in good order. This is a sign of good training and professionalism. A nail left on the ground could prove a disaster for a human or horse and being tidy demonstrates respect for clients and their horses.
  • Observe how they handle the horse. They may not always be riders themselves but should be able to handle horses professionally and calmly with a certain aptitude for the role.
  • Ask any questions that you feel you need to–a good farrier will be happy to answer any questions from their clients and should be willing to research answers they don't know off hand.
  • Upon completion, your horse should be relaxed, happy, with all 4 feet in good condition. The horse should moving freely and comfortably both in hand and under saddle.

Choosing a farrier is an important decision for any horse owner. By following our simple guide you will be able to approach and select a professional with ease. Come back to Spalding soon for more hints and tips on horse care

*Image courtesy of Dollar Photo Club.

Comments
  • This is so helpful, I am just looking for a skilled farrier to come to our horses