How to Keep a Great Farrier

Finally! You found a farrier you trust. One who is reliable and works well with you and your horses. One who happily answers questions, educates and discusses ideas. Now, how to keep them? Communication is key! Here is a list of things all farriers can and will appreciate. We work hard to keep your horses happy and sound. A few simple things can help keep us safe and happy in our wonderful, albeit dangerous and taxing profession.

1.      Be on time. Nothing is more frustrating than showing up at a barn and having the client pull in behind you. Farriers have multiple stops throughout the day and have meticulously planned their route for the day. Chances are you hated it when your last farrier was late. And, chances are, that farrier was late due to a late client. Please plan accordingly. If you know you can't get to the barn before 4pm, don't take a 4pm appointment. Ask for a 4:15 or 4:30, arrange for a friend to get your horse or plan to leave work early that day if possible. Farriers expect that if you have a 4pm appointment, you and your horse will be there waiting and ready to go. At Big River Equine we understand that things come up, we just ask that if something does, please call or txt us ASAP. Our policy is to call/txt if we are running more than 15 minutes behind.

2.      Clean feet/legs. The farriers’ job is to trim/shoe hooves. When you bring your horse up for the farrier, employ your regular grooming routine before the farrier arrives. Brush off mud clumps (especially under your horses belly and legs) and pick out feet. Mud and dirt are very hard on our expensive tools. Cleaning mud, dirt and debris out of your horse’s hooves before we arrive allows any remaining muddy residue to dry, making it easy to dust off before we begin our work. If we have to spend time cleaning your horse’s feet it may set our schedule back and the wet muddy feet are difficult to work with. If your horse is a pond pig (and we know a few…) and the only way to get the mud/dirt off is to hose them off, please do so at least an hour before your appointment or plan on thoroughly towel drying. Wet legs are just as difficult to work on.

3.      Be attentive. Please stay with your horse either holding the lead or standing by their head if cross-tied. Keep your horses head forward and level. Even a seemingly slight movement can pack a wallop on a farriers back. Try this experiment with your horse, have a friend hold your horse while you put his/her front leg between yours like the farrier does. Have your friend move your horses head from side to side and up and down. Now imagine that you have to sculpt that foot using metal tools and only your legs to hold you up. It's much easier with a horse that will stand quietly.

4.      Pick up poop. When your horse poops, the first thing that goes through the farriers mind is "C'mon horse PLEASE don't back up!". Please make every effort to remove piles as soon as they happen. Manure wets the feet and is hard on our tools and just plain stinks when your face is inches away from it.

5.      Be respectful. Please don't schedule the farrier, vet and chiropractor at the same or overlapping time. Doing so is frustrating for all equine professionals involved. Plan accordingly and allow for at least a 60 minute window between professionals visits. This of course does not apply when these professionals are purposely scheduled at the same time in an effort to work together to help your horse.

6.      Don't schedule during feeding time/turnout. Horses are excitable. Please don't schedule your appointment at a time that coincides with feeding and or barn turnout. Your horse will likely be harder to work on if all their buddies leave, are eating or are distracted by other commotion.

7.      Pay at time of service. Things happen, we forget our checkbooks and sometimes our entire wallet or purse, but please don’t make a habit of it. These days’ farriers can take all forms of payment including credit/debit cards and PayPal. Please be sure to have some form of payment ready at time of service. If for some reason you don’t have a payment method with you, please ask your farrier how you can get payment to them ASAP, and then follow through. 

8.       Follow up and communication: We will know if you’ve been treating the thrush and picking out the feet as directed. Please follow our instructions when given. The goal with this advice is to help your horse and it takes team work. If you're worried about your horses thrush or white line disease then you need to be caring for it in-between appointments. Just having your farrier treat it every six weeks is not enough to make a significant difference. Communication is key. If a problem arises or is not resolving in a way you are happy with, tell your farrier! If we don’t know, we can’t help.  

9.      Tie up tails and fly spray when needed: Horses have an uncanny ability to swish a tail just right and smack a farrier right in the eyeball! It's hard to make balance adjustments when your eye is watering and stinging. If your horse is a constant tail swisher please consider tying up the tail. Here's a neat video on tying Polo Tails. If it's fly season, please fly spray your horse’s legs and belly before your farrier arrives. If its winter, please tie up muddy tails to prevent us being slapped with frozen dreadlocks. 

10.  Say thank you: Nothing makes our day more than a sincere thank you for a job well done. An offering of a cold soda or ice tea on a hot day, a cup of coffee for an early morning stop to fix a shoe or check on an abscess, a quick text with an update on your horse. These things mean a lot. We truly care about you and your horse and often go out of our way to help you (even if you don’t realize it). Feeling appreciated is what keeps us coming back.