Health

Finding a Farrier

Advice from the American Farriers Association takes the stress out of selecting a farrier for your horse.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Just about every horseman knows the expression "no hoof, no horse." With that in mind, we “nailed down” (slight pun intended) Certified Journeyman Farrier R.T. Goodrich on some farrier-finding facts.

Q: I’m a new horse owner and new to town. How can I find a quality farrier?

A: I’m a firm believer in the American Farriers Association’s certification system. It’s easy to understand the different levels of certification, which can be verified on the Web site www.americanfarriers.org or by calling AFA.

While that doesn’t mean that if they aren’t certified, they aren’t good, but if they are certified, they have taken some steps to advance themselves beyond the basics. I suggest that you contact the AFA.

Just like an AFA-certified farrier, a good horseman will take steps to further his or her knowledge. Take the first step with AQHA's Equine Hoof Health report. You'll feel more confident in your ability to spot horse thrush or the formation of your horse's abscess.

Q: The barn where I board has a regular farrier. How do I decide whether to use him?

A: Watch him, talk to him and get his opinion. Watch for evidence of horsemanship. There are a lot of farriers who aren’t good horsemen. You really need to be horse smart. Strength is a tool, but compassion can’t be beat. You don’t want somebody who’s in a hurry all of the time. You want somebody who watches your horse move. You want somebody who has some passion for shoeing – who really wants to understand the process and your horse. See "How Good is Your Horse Shoer?" for more tips.

Q: I’m new to one discipline, but local farriers specialize in another. What do I do?

A: It depends on where you are and the relationship you have with the farrier. A quality journeyman farrier might have done one breed or discipline his whole career but will do a fine job on another type of horse. A properly balanced Quarter Horse is going to be shod like a properly balanced horse of any breed. Each horse’s job might make the type of shoe different.

Q: How often should my farrier trim my horse?

A: It depends on the horse and what you are doing with him. I’d say a horse that has a job should be revisited every five to six weeks on average. Racehorses and cutters maybe a little more often, backyard horses a little less often. The foot changes, and it depends on how the foot is balanced. You don’t shoe a horse for balance; you trim the horse for balance. You shoe a horse for traction and protection. Stick to basic shoeing practices, and the horse will tell you with performance and behavior what works best.

Not sure what performance and behavior signs to look for in a good shoeing job? That's where AQHA's Equine Hoof Health report comes in. Download your copy today and you'll also get a diagram of a horse's hoof and lower leg.

Surefire Strategy

“The best way in the world is for a horse owner to get the names of five different farriers – best bets are through feed stores or other farriers or vets. Call up each one of those five farriers and say: “If you couldn’t shoe my horse, who would you recommend?” You’ll come up with the top farrier in the area every time.” – Scott Davidson, American Farriers Association

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