Choosing a farrier - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 6 Old 05-18-2013, 11:14 PM Thread Starter
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Choosing a farrier

I was surprised that we don't have a sticky on how to select a farrier! I plan to take 'before' and 'after' pictures for you all when I have to do this after moving to get specific opinions, but aside from seeing other work they've done, what are people's suggestions on how to choose a good farrier or trimmer?

My current farrier's suggestion is to ask potential new farriers, "If you couldn't do my horse, who would you recommend?" The idea being that there are probably one or two people that the farrier community in the area generally recognize as as being very talented and probably good bets.

Other things I will be looking for myself is continuing education- do they go to clinics, competitions or classes to improve their skills? Finally, I prefer someone that has the ability to hot shoe- not necessarily because every horse needs shoes or that the ones that do need custom shoes, but because IMO shoes, along with good trimming, nutrition, and boots, are just one more tool in the box that can be pulled out when appropriate to keep a horse sound and comfortable.

So, what are your favorite tips for finding the right person?
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post #2 of 6 Old 05-19-2013, 01:29 AM
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Great topic!

I would suggest going to local events and talking to as many people as possible. These are the questions I ask:

Does he/she show up on time?
Does he/she answer questions?
Does he/she address specific concerns? (I had a farrier one time that would not leave the heels alone on my club-footed mare that has VERY slow growing heels.)
Does he/she work well with the vet when it's warranted?
Are you satisfied with the work?
Does he/she respond promptly to pulled shoes, soreness, etc.?

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post #3 of 6 Old 05-19-2013, 04:06 AM
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Guess there's no sticky because it's so open to different opinion.

My suggestion would be first to get yourself as well educated as you can yourself, so you recognise what's a good or bad job & why. Then look at their case studies or other horses they've done. I'd be willing to lower my expectations on other matters(eg. Turning up on time) in favour of good work, if there was a choice to be made, but I would also expect that the farrier is a reasonable & respectFUL horseperson too, not a 'stand up ya *******', hit em with the rasp type. While the farrier isn't employed to train your horse, even well trained horses can have 'niggles' that need to be appropriately dealt with & I've lost count of how many times I've heard of a farrier making matters bad/worse on that count.

Other than that, assuming there were more than one good farrier to choose from, then I would also consider recommendations, things like reliability, ability to explain stuff, answer questions, consider alternatives, whether or not they hot shoe/are good blacksmiths, carry boots, etc. But they would all be low on the list compared to the 'essentials'. Eg. Asking another farrier for recommendations may be better than asking any old horse owner, IMO, but it assumes the farrier you're talking to has a fair clue about knowledge & skill levels, and that the farrier he recommends isn't just one of his mates.
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post #4 of 6 Old 05-19-2013, 04:28 AM
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Ask the owners of ranches and show barns for recommendations. Those people base their livelihood on being able to use/work their horses everyday, and a lame horse is just costing them $$s standing around. You can bet that the farrier(s) they use will keep your horse's feet healthy.

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post #5 of 6 Old 05-19-2013, 10:46 AM
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Educate yourself and LOOK AT THE WORK!

Forget about certifications and memberships, look at the work! Nothing speaks like the work itself does. If you are not well versed on hoof form, ask online! It is a wonderful free evaluation tool where many of us donate our time to help horse owners find and get good soundness promoting trimming and shoeing. Free. Pictures can tell many things about the current work you are receiving and paying for.


But the bottom line is, get outside opinions from people who have zero stock in your current farrier. If they have an interest in that farriers billfold or their own billfold getting cheaper prices for backing a farrier friend, looks elsewhere for an opinion of the work!

One last thing, most vets are very poorly trained on the equine hoof. I always get second and even third opinions because so many of them just have no idea what they are talking about. The honest ones will even tell you so.
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post #6 of 6 Old 05-19-2013, 09:03 PM
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I have gone through a lot of farriers over the years. I am very picky...but, I have never had a horse go lame...so it pays to be a demanding PITA . Recommendations are good, but I put a lot of weight on initial conversation.I have had two excellent farriers, I knew both of them socially before they did my horses. I just think one can "gather" a lot about someone's ability by conversation - whether it is just an initial phone inquiry for their services/availability or in person just shooting the breeze. Not a very easily "formulated" method, but it works.

If I weren't a farrier's worst nightmare before, after I was forced to learn to trim my own ...... I am now. ;) You can "intuitively" know what you want, and want to see...but, to "know it" by way of education is far better. So, I completely agree w loosie and trinity, the best way to select the better farrier is to be somewhat educated on the subject, IMO.
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There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.

Last edited by Missy May; 05-19-2013 at 09:06 PM.
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