I’m absolutely amazed at the amount of people that use their farrier because he’s cheap, shows up on time or they’ve been using him/her for years. You’ll find the same answers from both novices and experienced horse people. Do people ever stop to ask themselves “does my farrier do a good job?”. Do people even know what to look for to be able to answer that question?
Cheap and shows up aren’t necessarily good qualities in a farrier. Being dependable is great, but why is your farrier always on time? Is it because he/she is very good at time management or because of lack of clients and plenty of time? We use an excellent farrier. As dependable as he is and as good as he is at scheduling, he’s not always on time. Horse and human clients aren’t as worried about your schedule as you are. Let’s face it, when you work with horses for a living, they’re bound to throw off your schedule. If your farrier is always on time, it may be time to rethink your farrier.
How do you know if your farrier is doing a good job? What do you look for?
From what I’ve seen over the past 45+ years, the #1 problem is too much toe and not enough heel. Cutting the heel off strains the tendons and muscles, which can lead to a variety of lameness issues in the future. Some of theses include navicular and contracted heels. The angle of the back of the hoof should match the front. Some farriers trim all horses at a 45 degree angle, which isn’t correct either. The angle of the hoof should mirror the angle of the shoulder. The angle of the front of the hoof should match the angle of the back of the hoof.
Types of trims should be different. If you farrier trims a barefoot horse the same way as a shod horse, you may want to rethink who you’re using. Barefoot trims should never be flat. The hoof wall thickens and develops a mustang roll. The sole will eventually start to dish and the horse will have a nice, deep sole.
Editors note – None of these photos are of a fresh trim. She was trimmed 3 1/2 weeks ago.
If your horse is shod, does your farrier shape the shoe to the hoof or the other way around? Is there more time spent reshaping the shoe, checking for fit and reshaping agin until the shoe fits the hoof? Or is the shoe close enough & the hoof is filed until they match? All good, knowledgeable farriers will fit the shoe to the hoof. The angles of the trim are the same, but the sole needs to be flat so the shoe will fit flat.
So how does your farrier stack up?