What does a farrier do?
While farriers can shoe horses, your horse doesn’t always need shoes. Shoes can help with
- protection from extra rough ground
- traction on iffy ground or in competition
- therapeutic support of other issues
More importantly, a farrier helps maintain the horse, even if shoes aren’t needed. Much like human fingernails, hooves continue growing all the time, so regular visits from the horseshoer help horses feel their best.
Whether a horse is barefoot or not, a farrier should make sure feet are all the same length and meet the ground at the correct angle front to back and side to side for that particular horse. If a horse is balanced, they can do whatever we ask with much less risk of injury or stress.
How can a farrier help my horse?
Domestic horses usually don’t just stand around. We ride them. We ask them to do all kinds of work that they wouldn’t usually do, with extra weight on their backs. All of this causes stress to the joints. Hooves are like the foundation of a house; everything starts there. The more stress that we cause, the more critical it is to make sure we keep feet balanced.
Think high heels vs running shoes. For example, if you wear high heels all day, you might find that your legs and back hurt after a while. And it gets worse the longer you wear the heels. And running? Not easy! You run much more easily in your running shoes.
The same goes for horses, except they don’t get to take off those heels. They have to wear them 24/7. If their feet aren’t set up like running shoes, they feel stress and pain in their joints too. A good farrier will check all of these things to make sure your horse has the best foundation they can have.
Other problems they can help with
- injury of the foot or leg
- navicular syndrome, an inflammation or degeneration in the feet
- ringbone, a type of arthritis
- poor conformation
How do you find a good farrier?
My farrier describes his role as keeping a horse healthy from the ground up. Ideally, a horseshoer has had extensive training in how a horse moves and how their work effects that movement. They know how to solve problems that come up as well as how to prevent new ones.
There isn’t a hard and fast rule for what qualifies a farrier to work on a horse, so not all farriers are equal. My farrier went through a 2 year program with an apprenticeship under a master farrier. When choosing someone to take care of your horses, it’s important to know what their training is and how their clients like the results.
You should have your farrier out regularly since hooves grow constantly. It’s pretty standard to have appointments every 8 weeks, give or take, to keep problems from developing. Since I have horses, I’ve needed a farrier on a regular basis for years. I consider him a partner in the care of my horses and will need him for as long as I have horses.
For more about how a farrier can help your horse, here are some links:
For more great info about horses, read Why is exercise for your horse so important?You might also want to read Does your horse need a massage? for more on helping your equine friend perform their best. You can also read about CBD Oil for pain management in horses.