Sunday, April 3, 2011

Take Care of Your Horseshoer

I live in constant fear that my horseshoer will “fire me” or leave the area. Does that sound weird?

Well, here’s the deal. Good horseshoers are hard to find. My mare requires hot shoeing because three of her feet are odd-shaped, especially one front foot which is somewhat of a club-foot. The two hinds require bar shoes. On top of that she wears size 3 shoes which he orders ahead of time since he doesn’t usually carry shoes that big. I also understand dressage horses are shod differently than other horses. I don’t know exactly want the difference is. I leave that up to my shoer and trust him to handle it.

My particular shoer used to teach the horseshoeing school at the local community college until they shut down the program. Unfortunately, he has back issues so shoeing my horse can be a trial for him. Gailey is a leaner, and we’re talking about 1350 pounds of leaning. My poor shoer is moaning and groaning the entire time.

He’s also the first shoer who’s actually explained a few things to me about her. First of all, when he works on her feet and then releases her foot, she holds the foot up as if she’s going to kick him. I used to swat her for that behavior, and my former shoers would get after her. This shoer doesn’t. He explained to me that she’s arthritic, and it takes her a while to uncramp her foot and put it back down after he’s held it up for a while.

Also she makes it hard for him to pick up her foot and place it on his little foot stand (I have no idea what those things are called). He’s the first shoer who’s explained that her hocks get sore, and it hurts for them to be lifted up that high and held in position.

I never realized any of this. I thought she was being belligerent so did my former shoers.

A few months ago when he came to shoe her, she’d been on bute for a few weeks because of lameness. He said it was the easiest time he’d ever had shoeing her. She wasn’t resistant and didn’t fight him when he lifted her legs. I was mortified. I hadn’t realized how sore she’d been and how much her arthritis affected the shoeing process, not just for her comfort but also for his.

I’ve started buting her a few days before each shoeing to make it more comfortable for both of them.

A few weeks ago, I was really sick and missed my shoeing appointment. I didn’t know I missed it until a week later, I was that sick. I’ve never missed an appointment before so I started calling my shoer and apologizing profusely. After a few days of nail-biting in dread that he may add me to his list of fired clients, he finally called me back. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

He's a great shoer, and he's also entertaining. Someday he should go on the road as a comedy act.

Now he’s threatening to move to Boise, but I’ll cross my fingers he doesn’t. Searching for a new horseshoer who understands Gailey and her issues would not be an easy process.

If you have a good horseshoer, treat them like gold. It seems to be a dying art.


Mikey said...

So very true. It is a dying art and a lot of people are NOT compassionate with horses. Sounds like you have a real gem and I'm glad you take good care of him :)

Laura Crum said...

Jami--My shoer has been doing my horses for almost twenty years. He's getting old and gruff, but he does a good job on my horses and I can put up with the lack of a cheery good morning from him for the good job he does. He won't do difficult horses any more--he's 60-- so I'm fortunate that mine all behave well. But I keep begging him to give me some warning before he retires.

You know, Henry, who trots completely sound, has started leaning and rocking a little when his feet are lifted, and I think he's just getting stiff. I only trim him, so it doesn't take too long, but I may start giving him some light exercise first, as Mrs Mom once recommended.

HorsesAndTurbos said...

I always give my farrier something yummy at Christmas...I don't think many do, and it's fun to see his face light up over homemade banana-cranberry bread!

Linda Benson said...

I so agree with you, Jami! Besides knowing what they are doing and being compassionate with your animals, the other qualities that make a shoer a gem are professionalism (showing up on time)or calling if they're running late, and calling the night before to remind you of your appointment. When you find a good shoer that you trust - hang on to them like gold!! ;-)

Linda said...

I have one of those shoers--he consults around the world, owned his own magazine for profarriers, and was 2 or 3 time world champion. He's getting older now and I don't know how long he'll continue. He chooses which clients he'll take after putting them on trial for a while, and he also fires clients. He saved the life of my horse after his P3 fracture (and vet misdiagnosis for 3 whole months!!). I've also got a club footed Mustang and a goofy footed paint who couldn't lope circles when I bought her. Let's just say, they're ALL projects!! I'm so thankful for him--I do whatever I can to make his life easy.

Anonymous said...

My farrier is a young girl who just took on a full time job and I'm very concerned that she will eventually tell me she is done with the horses. On the upside she has said that she will continue to work on weekends and will stay with some of her more dedicated clients until she decides to move on. I do tip her though. I feel it's one way I can say thank you for coming all the way to my place and keeping my horses feet healthy!!

Jami Davenport said...

I wondered about tipping my shoer. Do many of you do that?

Jami Davenport said...

I also like the idea of making some kind of treat for him. He just got divorced and is a bachelor now.

Dreaming said...

Oh, the worry of 'will he come?'!
I have had some bad experiences with the farrier breaking appointments in the past.. and yes, I hold my breath hoping he will come and it isn't something I did or said, or my horse did!

Linda said...

I give mine a tip at Christmas--and I make him homemade treats. I also thank him a lot--which I think he appreciates most.

HorsesAndTurbos said...

I'm also very lucky that mine lives 1 mile or so away. He's also a certified equine dentist. When he mentioned he and his wife were roping down the road, I made it a point to go watch.

Definately tip if you can at the holidays, and treats are always appreciated!

Allenspark Lodge said...

Good farriers are definitely worth spoiling a lot. Living in the mountains, we are so fortunate that our favorite still 'makes time' for us; I found out last year he had given up most of his clients, even the close ones, but he always comes up the mountain for our yearly inspection. We got the horses on Friday, I made the call that afternoon; he called back Sat. and said he would be here Mon. and was looking forward to seeing our horses. Yeah!!!! This is really, really fast work for where we live. (He's also a sherrif's deputy, so we can only get him on his days off.) He is so patient with Ranger, Bill's mustang, who only lets very special people handle his feet. Gotta go get ready for him; get the horses moving around and warm (22* out there right now) and clean their feet. Yes, I tip; I tell him its gas money because he's driving 35 miles for us, just to do trims (we're barefootin' it).

Chad said...

My farrier just had his second knee replacement surgery 10 months ago, and I worry everyday he will toss in the rasp!
He is kind to the girls and my mini's and loves horses!! He is full of knowledge that he shares freely and has offered several times to help me learn to trim the mini's and the horses I keep barefoot...eventhough it would affect his income at my house.
I tip at least $5 everytime he is out. If one of the girls or boys is a total brat, I tip more. I also give him a big tip at the end of the year. I also pay in cash so he doesn't have to worry about hitting the bank or my check bouncing- although I would never let that happen! (0:

Susan said...

I'm fortunate that Tom trims and shoes the horses we ride. Also most of our horses live on rugged ground so they don't need trimming, which is good because some of them have never had their feet handled.

Jessi D said...

I completely agree with you. Our shoer has just retired, and it has been very difficult to find an adequate replacement.