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How to keep your Hoof Care Provider coming back

Once you find a hoof care provider you like, you should make sure they want to come back and work for you. If you find that you've tried several farriers that just quit calling you back or showing up, there may be a reason. Yes, some farriers are rude and don't give notice or reasons for quitting, but if it is a common experience for you, you should ask yourself if it's something to do with you or your horses. I will let someone know when I decide not to come back, for whatever reason, so they can find a replacement and so they they will be aware of anything they can do to keep the next one.

Here are a few suggestions (and some requirements) to keep a good hoof care provider coming back.
  • Make your next appointment before your farrier leaves, and keep it. With certain exceptions, it's much easier to book in advance, and keeps costs down as your farrier won't have to drive extra miles when he/she can plan routes accordingly. Waiting until the last minute will often mean your horses have to go longer between trims than they should. 
  • Keep your appointments. Forgetting your farrier is coming and leaving them "stood up" is poor etiquette for any appointment. Your farrier isn't driving all the way to your house for a social call, and missed appointments mean wasted gas and time, and you will have to be rescheduled. Expect to pay a trip charge if you forget or cancel last minute, to compensate for time and gas lost. Too many forgotten or rescheduled (last minute cancellations) appointments and you will likely be dropped off the clientele list altogether.  
  • Pay when services are rendered. Expect to make full payment at the time of the appointment,  and please have the cash or check book handy so your farrier doesn't have to wait.
  • Have your horses caught or penned up and waiting. If your horses are handy and ready (fly spray, mud wiped off, etc) then this translates into a punctual farrier for all!
  • Train your horses before your appointment to pick up their feet calmly. If you are not able, pay someone or expect to pay more for unruly horses to be trimmed. It's not the farrier's job to train your horse, that is owner responsibility.

If your horse IS unruly:

  • At least warn the hoof care provider when you schedule the appointment. You will be informed of expected extra charges/rates that may be charged and the possibility of needing veterinary provided sedatives  and physical restraints in extreme cases.
  • Be aware that a farrier is entitled to reprimand a horse to protect themselves. "Let the punishment fit the crime" . If your horse kicks or bites out of aggression, the farrier may hit or kick or push the horse in self defense. Excessive "beating" by the farrier should not occur, but if your horse is nasty to handle, dont expect the farrier to simply take it in stride. Horses are dangerous, handling their feet is dangerous, and farriers depend on being able to keep up with the physical demands of their job, which they cannot do if they've broken a leg from a horse kick. If your hoof care provider can't work, they can't put food on the table.



New Horse Owners:

   There is no shame in admitting ignorance. Your farrier will be happy to show you how to pick up and handle hooves, how to hold the horse while it is being trimmed and so forth, but please mention you would like time to discuss things when booking your appointment so you don't make the farrier late to the next stop. Please take the advice seriously when your farrier asks you to turn the horse a certain way, etc.  Your handling of the horse can make the farrier's job harder or easier.

  • Don't let your horse eat while being trimmed.
  • Position the horse away from walls/posts/obstacles as much as possible to avoid safety hazards. Horses tend to migrate around sometimes, or space is limited,  but try to keep the side the farrier is working on away from walls. Horses can decide in a hurry to put their foot down and pin a farrier against a wall.
  • Don't feed the other horses or remove herd-mates while the farrier is working on one. The horse left out will fidget and be more dangerous if his buddies leave him behind or he thinks he's missing out on a meal. Preferably you would feed just before the appointment so the horses will be more content and not wondering where supper is.
  • Feed hay before. If your horse has a belly full of hay or grass, he will usually stand better.
  • Spray fly repellents before working on the horse. Fly spray tends to be oily and slippery, so if you wait, their legs will be slippery and hard to hold.  
  • Remove mud/manure if possible. If you have time for the legs to dry, hosing them off of excess mud is fine, but in cold weather or humid when they won't dry before being worked on , just scrape the mud off with a stiff brush and let air dry.
  • When holding your horse for the farrier, stay on the same side as the farrier when he/she is working on a hind foot. For the front feet, you will have to stand on the other side to get out of the way when bringing the foot forward on the hoof stand. This is an important safety matter.
  • Have proper equipment. A strong halter that fits and a lead rope are must-haves.
Other details:
  • Do not expect miracles in one trim. If your horse has had years of trouble, it will take a while to fix. Your horse may be tender or go through a healing phase and have to get over thrush, abscesses and bruises before his hooves get better. It takes a year for hoof wall growing at the hairline to grow down and reach the ground level. So, in 3 months, the top 1/3rd hoof belongs to the new farrier, while the old farrier's work is still very visible in the lower 2/3 of the hoof.Until the new hoof is grown in, many problems can still pop up, though should be fewer as the year goes by. One trim does not equal perfect hooves!
  • If you DO expect miracles-follow your farrier's advice closely. If you don't do your part, the farrier won't make much difference. So if the diet needs changed, or the environment has to be dried out, then do it. Otherwise, the hooves won't ever heal, regardless of how good the hoof care is from your farrier. The owner has more influence on the horse than the vet and farrier combined. You, as an owner are responsible for exercise, diet and environment, all of which shape the hooves your horse is standing on. As a Hoof Care Provider, I can only influence them every few weeks, you have every day. Your vet only sees them once or twice a year.
  • Finally, provide a sheltered, level work space if you can. Barn isles, concrete pads or even a car port work fine. Shade in the summer, wind blocks in the winter. Mud is very hard to work in. It's hard on tools, hard for the horse to stand on 3 legs in, and is a safety no-no. You must have a fairly dry area to work/ If you really want to pamper your farrier, provide a fan in the summer (this keeps the flies off the horses, as well!) and a well lighted area in the winter when the days are short. Keep communication lines open, whether you have a problem, a question or just want to say "job well done", communication is vital.