what questions to ask a new farrier

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what questions to ask a new farrier

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    10-26-2011, 02:29 PM
what questions to ask a new farrier

Not sure if it would go here, but what questions should I ask new farrier that I would be switching to?

I didn't really have a choice for a farrier, just kinda got thrown into it.

Its been 8 weeks since my horse's last trim and I've been trying for TWO WEEKS to get a hold of my farrier to come out.
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    10-26-2011, 02:49 PM
Personally I didn't ask anything except how much he charges when I switched.
    10-26-2011, 02:54 PM
I'll let Mark (Horseman56) answer that question:

There are good questions to ask and there are questions that probably shouldn't be asked! Here's a few tips that might help.

  1. Never start the conversation by asking about price. Most competent farriers in a given area are generally competitive in fee schedules. They have to be or they would not long remain in business. If you do hear pricing that "sounds too good to be true", you can bet dollars against donut holes that you'll be getting exactly what you're paying for.
  2. It's okay to ask a farrier how long he/she has been practicing but what they tell you may not be particularly useful. A farrier may claim they have been shoeing horses for 30 years. The unanswered question becomes... do they have 30 years of experience or... 1 year of experience that they've been repeating for 29 years? See the difference?
  3. Asking about certification has some value but you have to careful about what certification. An AFA certified journeyman farrier has absolutely had to demonstrate a very strong level of both academic and practical skill.... at least once in their lifetime. Doesn't guarantee you they'll deliver their best work the day you need them, but it does go a long way towards assuring at least some good competency.

    Certification with the Guild of Professional Farriers also carries a good amount of credibility.

    Sadly, there are other certifications out there that are nearly laughable. While there are some excellent BWFA farriers, the certification levels offered by the BWFA is nearly worthless.

    There are some excellent farriers that are not certified and some valid reasons why a farrier may not pursue certification.

    I have reviewed most of the better known "barefoot trimmer" type certifications in the US. Suffice it to say that none represent any serious credibility and most are ridiculous in the experience and skill they claim to represent.

    Certification in the United Kingdom represents the pinnacle of quality in the world. The FWCF farriers are, in my view, the best trained farriers anywhere and must complete an intensive 4 years of training and apprenticeship before earning their credentials.
  4. Ask the farrier if he hot shapes and hot fits shoes. He may not need to do either to meet your horses needs, but these are basic skills that every farrier should possess. This is a key question for horse owners. Many of the "backyard hacks" wont' even carry a portable forge, let alone know how to use one. A forge doesn't guarantee competency, but it sure is a strong hint that the farrier can do more than simply shape and nail a keg shoe.
  5. Ask how and when visits are scheduled. Does the farrier schedule the next appointment immediately when he finishes working on your horse or is it an ad-hoc arrangement?
  6. Do not call a farrier and say, "My horse needs a trim" or "My horse needs shoes". Simply say that you are in need of farrier service for your horse then wait for the farrier to ask a few questions. His questions will tell you a lot about his experience level and business practices. For instance, he should ask you....

    How old is your horse and what is the breed?
    Is the horse currently barefoot or shod?
    How do you use the horse? Trail riding, pasture pet, show horse, specific discipline, etc.
    Does your horse have any history of lameness?
    He may ask you who your current veterinarian is.

    Sometimes it's not about what you ask the farrier; it's about what he asks you!
  7. If your horse performs in a specific performance discipline, ask the farrier if he has experience in that discipline. While most farriers are "general practitioners" there are certainly areas of specialization that may concern you. Examples include:

    Barrel Racing
    Thoroughbred, Quarterhorse, ASB or STB racing
    Gaited horses used in the show ring (e.g. Tennesse Walkers, Morgans)
    Any therapeutic or corrective shoeing.

    While some may argue that other disciplines/breeds require "special" shoeing or trimming, this is usually not true. Examples would be:

    Any horse (gaited or not) used for trail riding.
    Low level hunter/jumpers.
    Low level western pleasure, horsemanship or showmanship.
    Pasture Ornaments.
  8. Ask your farrier if he has care, custody and control insurance.
  9. Ask if he is a full-time, full service provider. A lot of the "backyard hacks" have non-farriery jobs and do the farrier work on the side for extra spending money.
There are things the horse owner can do to assure the best possible service once you have selected a professional farrier. Here's a few "do's" and "don'ts".

  1. Try to provide a reasonable place for the work to be done. This includes shelter from the weather (usually a barn) with a firm, level surface to work on. It is very difficult to evaluate and trim/shoe a horse on unlevel ground. Working in a pasture or your backyard is a worst case scenario for a farrier.
  2. Most farriers will need access to electric and water. They need electric to power their rig and any power tools they may use. They need water for their quenching bucket.
  3. Good lighting is important.
  4. Make sure your horse is ready. This means he is waiting in the barn, reasonably cleaned up and dry.
  5. Training! One of the most important things you can do to assure good quality is to make sure you horse is trained to stand quietly and to hold his feet up when asked. A poorly behaved horse is a risk to the farrier; will have a huge effect on the quality of work being delivered and a good way to assure the farrier won't be back. Training means holding a foot up for at least 2 minutes. Many owners teach their horse to bring the foot back. Don't forget that the farrier needs the horse to bring the foot forward too! You can buy cheap hoof stands on ebay for practice purposes.
  6. Remember that your farrier is human too. If you've got 5 horses to be worked on and the farrier will there several hours, he might appreciate being offered the use of a bathroom.
  7. I know it's boring to stand there for hours holding horses. It's hard on your farrier too. Be willing to allow a few breaks if the work is going to require several hours.
  8. Don't feed your horse or other horses in the area when the farrier is working. Doing so will agitate your horse and make the work much more difficult.
  9. Don't feed treats to your horse while the farrier is working.
  10. Don't groom your horse while the farrier is working.
  11. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
  12. Pay your bill when the work is done. If you need to float a check, let the farrier know before he comes to your farm.
  13. Tips are always appreciated but are not necessary or expected.
  14. Young children in the work area is a safety hazard! So are dogs, ducks, chickens, goats and other pets.
  15. Either discipline your horse when he needs it or allow the farrier to do it in your behalf. There's no reason to ever abuse a horse but it is negligent and irresponsible to allow a 1,000 pound animal to present a safety risk to a human being. A light nudge or slap is not going to injure your horse but it may prevent serious injury to the farrier or the handler.
Read more: Is my farrier doing a good job?
    10-26-2011, 03:05 PM
I still don't get what's wrong to ask the price. Everyone I know asks, and all farriers (no exception) I talked to had no problem with it what so ever (whether person has 30 years of experience as farrier, or just starting). Moreover lots of those folks have websites with price published for public. I much rather know the price and be ready with the cash (I prefer to pay my farrier in cash).

#5, 6 & 7 are definitely very important ones though.
    10-27-2011, 01:29 AM
Either discipline your horse when he needs it or allow the farrier to do it in your behalf. There's no reason to ever abuse a horse but it is negligent and irresponsible to allow a 1,000 pound animal to present a safety risk to a human being. A light nudge or slap is not going to injure your horse but it may prevent serious injury to the farrier or the handler.
...But DON'T whack your horse while the farrier's underneath!!
kevinshorses likes this.
    10-27-2011, 01:51 AM
He didn't say not to ask about price. He said to not START the conversation by asking about price.
    10-27-2011, 08:06 AM
Any good farrier will tell you his price on his own. They're a business owner, and their own salesman/woman. Any questions you may have, are probably going to be answered by listening to them.

Also if you're in Colorado it doesn't hurt to know the vice president of the Rocky Mountain Farrier Association. And it really helps to own a cousin to one of his broodmares.
    10-27-2011, 09:50 AM
Originally Posted by kevinshorses    
He didn't say not to ask about price. He said to not START the conversation by asking about price.
Kevin, but say if the farrier charges $15 why even have a conversation (or try to schedule an appointment)? I'd just run away right on spot!

But as I think about it I did ask when I talked. Not in 1st sentence, but definitely quite soon in conversation (because that's something I want to know before I decide if I want to schedule the appointment).
    10-27-2011, 10:29 AM
Originally Posted by kitten_Val    
I still don't get what's wrong to ask the price.
Fair enough. Here's why.

Most farriers get that first call via voice message as they are usually under a horse or otherwise busy when the call comes in.

When they listen to the message it all too often sounds like this:

"Hi! I'm calling to see how much you would charge to come out and trim my horse? You can reach me at 555-PasturePuke".

The average farrier will "read" a lot into this call.

I don't know how many horses you have. I have no idea how far away you are so no idea what it will cost me to travel to your location.

I have no idea how long it has been since your horse was last trimmed/shod so don't know if we're talking about a 30 minute maintenance trim or 2 hours worth of corrective work. I also don't know if we're talking about a well trained show horse that stands like a dream or some ill-broke pasture puke that you just got from the local EPM rescue. I don't know what the intended use of this horse is. Is it a light horse? A draft? A mule? I have no medical history or current status of the animal. I don't know if you have a barn with power/water/light or if I have to stand in 6 inches of paddock muck while trying to get a therapeutic package on a lame horse in an ice storm.

Moreover, you just told me what your horse needs. I can't tell you how many times I've shown up to a new client who requested a trim and see a horse that is desperately in need of shoes. I also see a lot of horses that would do just fine with nothing but a trim but the owner insists on shoeing the animal. There's a professional standing right in front of them that does this every day for a living and is probably highly qualified to suggest what will best meet the needs of their horse, but... people don't ask.

Most important, that voice mail message suggests to me that your first priority is cost and you're probably looking for the cheapest guy in town. I understand but to be honest, I don't want to be that guy. I know how that guy runs his business; I know how little training he has and I know what his priorities and work ethic are.

No, I'm not that guy and don't want to be. In the longer term, you'll be glad I'm not him. So will your horse.

    10-27-2011, 11:35 AM
Hmmmm.... I never leave a question about the price on answering machine, for anyone. Because it doesn't make sense to me. When I called farrier it always was something like "I'm looking for the farrier to trim my horses. Some friends recommended you, so I'd like to know if you take new clients in and if so please give me a call back at ... I'm in Rockville." (BTW, you can't leave lots of info on answering machine anyway :) ).

However when I talk in person I always ask about the price (whether it's a farrier, lesson, or teeth floating). Not because I look for the cheapest service, but because 1) I have to have my check/cash ready, and 2) Sometime I have to manage my finances in bank, so I'd much rather know what expenses are coming to my checking. I'm pretty positive lots of people ask for the very same reasons.
Red Gate Farm likes this.

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