The importance of a good farrier

The importance of a good farrier

Learning this lesson the hard way.

This has been the year of bad farriers -- not just for me, but for many people at my barn.  It started when my younger horse, the one that has been in training, was trimmed too short in late spring or early summer.  I switched to a farrier that several other people at the barn had just started using, too, and for several months she seemed to be the answer -- but she started laming other people's horses by trimming them too short, as well, so I switched again, this time to a friend of my trainer's.

The newest farrier just trimmed my horses on Saturday, and so far I am cautiously optimistic.  They seem to be moving well, and my thin-soled youngster is not sore, which is a good sign.  But after all the problems I've had this year, I've learned not to make snap judgments.  We will wait to see whether they continue moving well, and whether I continue liking this new farrier after a couple of trims, before I decide for sure that I like him.

I've also learned that "good enough" isn't always actually good enough.  My first farrier, the one who trimmed my youngster too short in the spring, had been trimming my older horse for four and a half years.  I knew his quality had been slipping for quite some time, and it had gotten pretty bad of late, but I had history with him so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Until he lamed my baby and cost us several months of training time while his feet grew back.

The second farrier seemed to be exactly what we needed.  She trimmed a little on the short sign, which worked spectacularly well for my older horse, and she (claimed she was) willing to be careful on the younger, thin-soled horse.  (I had x-rays done to confirm the younger one's club feet, and they showed that he has extremely thin soles.)  But she seemed to sometimes have problems trimming people's horses too short.  The first time we all gave her the benefit of the doubt.  The second time, the owner of the horse that got trimmed too short was a bit on the crazy side, so everyone figured she was just crying wolf.  The third time, though, the problem could no longer be ignored, and we all switched -- again.

My newest farrier -- well, I'm not totally sold on him yet.  He seemed to do a good job, but he didn't exactly knock my socks off -- though I thought the last one had, so perhaps a good, understated, basic trim is what I should have been looking for all along.  For now, I'm reserving judgment, but I've learned my lesson -- at the first sign of shoddy work, I will bail.  Never again will I risk my horses' hoof health in order to give a farrier the benefit of the doubt!