The painful search for a reliable farrier
Since moving my gelding and buying our mare we've had a farrier who usually did an okay job, but something about her didn't sit right with me from the start. I never liked how she showed up on her own time, or beat my horse with her tools when he crowded. I have my own ways of getting my space back, none of which include a heavy object. When we sold brown (past mare) we were left with only two horses, and I remembered how hard it was to find a farrier to come out for three, until my aunt, who lives just up the rode, referred the farrier we have... erm... had, and I wondered if she would even bother to come out anymore. But my aunt lives two houses down the road with her own horses, surely it wouldn't be that difficult. Apparently it was. When the horses were due for a trim, I called, I emailed, and called, and emailed, again and again and again until the horses were three weeks overdue and still no answer. Naturally, I was pretty annoyed, maybe even more than that. Not a week later my aunt came over to the barn and told me that my good friend farrier had got every single call and email, but never bothered to reply! How hard is it to drive down the rode and do my horses at 70 dollars a horse? At that price I would drive anywhere! So I spent weeks looking for someone, anyone to come out and trim my horses feet, but no one is willing to do two horses. A few weeks past I finally found someone to come out, she's pretty green, but the feet look better than before. The horses are due again and just like a curse, she hasn't bothered to reply to either my phone calls or emails! Why is it so hard?
Not sure why it's so hard.... especially in this economy, you'd think that people would be clamoring for work but I guess not always the case.
I've been emailing and texting my farrier for the last week and no response, and she's a GOOD farrier. Not ready to give up on her yet, but my girl is coming overdue for a trim....
I had to smile a soon as I saw the word "painful" :D
I don't have an answer either.
I am thankful that I learned to trim from my granddad when I was a kid; I've trimmed my horses off and on thru my life when money was tight.
Sadly, now that I am old enough to be fully retired I am trimming all four of my horses full time:shock::shock:
One has a less-than-Grade 1 club hoof, therefore a prescription.
Two have metabolic issues with the 24 yr old wanting to have wall separation if I don't stay on top of him every 3 - 4 weeks.
The fourth one (25+ yrs) is sorta normal but not really because of arthritis build-up in a back injury from when I rescued him 18+ years ago.
So why, in my old age, am I having to trim? It is because the 30-something fella who was great the first three years could not keep his personal woman issues from between the rasp and my horses hooves:-(
When I saw all four of my horses hooves peel and chip back only three weeks into the trim, I was livid. Livid because my 24 yr old with EMS has never once had cracked, chipped, peeled hooves in the 21 years we've been buds.
I later found out he did the same thing to the horses of a lady I'm acquainted with on my local forum. Annnd two of her horses abscessed. He was filling in while her regular trimmer had shoulder surgery; she tried to tell him how to trim them and he wouldn't listen.
He later blamed her hoof issues on diet ---- just like he did with me:evil:
Even though I should not be trimming 16 hooves for health reasons, I am at least one of the lucky ones that knows how.
It might be worth the OP and previous poster's time to at least learn to rasp? If you rasp every 3 - 4 weeks, you pretty much wouldn't need knippers, except to maybe cut the heels down a bit.
I started trimming in that short time frame because my hands have arthritis in them and I don't trust myself to take a good cut anymore. I have found that rasping my two metabolic horses' hooves that frequently, actually pays off a lot more for them than when the Trimmer-with-the-woman-problems came every five weeks:-P
The other option is to maybe get on-line and look up the farrier and/or Trimmer directories to see who might be near you or willing to drive to you.
If you Google "Directory of barefoot trimmers" or "Directory of Farriers", you will get several hits that may help:-)
A good farrier is worth their weight in gold. Finding them, not so easy. When our farrier of 20+ years retired, I spent 3 years to find one I liked enough to keep permanently. I have 11 so I had no problem getting them here, but the work that was done by quite a few was certainly not up to par. You might try asking your vet, at your feed store, call other barns & trainers in your area and ask. I found that trying one based on a website and certifications proved to be almost worthless. I ended up with my current farrier by calling a friend several hours away and asking who he used. I pay mine mileage to drive 2 hours one way to my place, but it is absolutely worth it!
I started trying to line up a farrier 6wks before the first horse hit our property. Contacted 12 and got a response from 3. The others never returned calls or emails. Here is the run down over the last 2yrs:
1st farrier came twice. He hated my horses, halters, and lead ropes and never failed to tell me about it. My horses were not clicker trained and our barn was not air conditioned. These were two huge issues as far as he was concerned. He said if he ever had time for us again he would call.
2nd farrier made an appt with us and never showed up.
3rd farrier wanted to look at the horses before he would make an appt to trim. He came, looked at them, said it was no problem and made the appt. Never showed up.
4th farrier was with us for 15 months. He didn't show for a scheduled appt in August and we haven't heard from him since. We know he is alive since he is still trimming all the local boarding stables.
Tried the 2nd farrier again. He came once and made an appt for 7wks out. Never showed up and can't be reached.
We now have our 5th farrier. He's been here once and we have an appt for 6wks. Fingers crossed this one can hang around for a while because he really did a nice job. Yes, we are paying mileage and more than the average for trimming in our area, but if he shows up when scheduled and does a good balanced trim.....well, at this point I would probably pay anything.
MHF is right a good farrier IS worth their weight in gold and finding them is NOT easy.
I've had some farrier problems, so I know how you feel.
When we boarded at our ex farm, the BO used a farrier to come from MD to do all the horses at the barn, boarders and hers, on a 6 week rotation. During our time there we got to know this farrier, and the quality of his work. since her barn was right near the PA/MD boarder, him travelling up out of MD wasnt such a big deal. In our years at this farm, we never had issues... our horses hooves were exemplary, he told us. Even our OTTb. he said he'd never seen hooves like that on a TB before. Same with our draft, never a crack or chip....
Then we moved our horses far from this barn, way up in the mountains where we are the only boarders and our horses are the only two on the property....and our troubles began. EX BO told us not to bother calling "her" farrier, cuz he wouldn't travel that far....so we didn't. Found another farrier nearby....which was a disaster. he trimmed the TB fine, but apparently wasn't up to par on trimming a draft...at least not our draft, who grows prolific amounts of hoof and 6 weeks is even a stretch....he trimmed her waaay too long and said that 8 weeks between trimmings would be sufficient. It wasn't. Her hooves literally fell apart. It was horrifying...HUGE chunks just literally fell off...
THis from a horse who hadn't had a crack or even a chip in YEARS!!
In panic we called the ex BO's farrier...he was shocked when we told him Epona's hooves were literally falling apart. He'd trimmed this horse for years, and it wasn't like her to have any hoof issues.
He agreed to come and take a look.
He was shocked at the condition of her hooves, but because what had chipped off was "excess", she was never lame and could spare it, he told us.
Nothing catastrophic, thanks to our draft being a amazing hoof grower.
We talked, he agreed to travel the one hour drive to our new farm to do our 2 horses every six weeks. Of course the farm call is high ($75) due to the one hour travel time, but this man is worth his weight in gold!! You cannot put a price on the value of quality farrier work.
Since he's been coming to do our horses, neither have had any cracks, chips or chunks come off....not even during fly stomping season.....
I LOVE my farrier! Oh, and he's handsome, too.:-)
Back in the 70's we had one farrier. You made an appointment and he showed up. It didn't matter if it was raining or dry, full shoes or a trim. The horse was caught and ready. Farrier came and did his work; got paid and left. No ego and no drama.
Coming from that experience it has been pretty shocking to try and deal with all the no-shows and failures to return calls or emails. We have always made sure the horses were clean, caught and ready to be trimmed. We pay cash and usually have cold water bottles and homemade cookies as well.
Can't be easy for the horse either since everyone we have dealt with has had a completely different approach--use the stand/don't use the stand, roll the edge/don't roll the edge, top dress/don't top dress.
I guess there is enough business that maintaining repeat customers isn't a concern? All I know is telling anyone how many farrier we have had is embarrassing and looks like we are problem clients. Depressing subject.
Heck, it looks like being a Farrier is the way to go in this economy. I mean, if they are rolling in the dough enough not to bother showing up for appointments? Hell, at this point, I can't even get hired for minimum wage, maybe I should learn to trim hooves xD
i had a problem for a while when i first go my horses... no one wanted to do the backyard pets:( so for months i looked and no one replied. i finally asked my friends dad who is a farrier and he said sure.
my best friends dad is a great farrier. sadly he is out of my area but bc i am good friends with the family he will make the extra hour trip to check my horses feet with a cost of a good bbq for both our families to get together and give his little kids pony rides. he also helped me learn how to trim them myself so i don't have to have him come every 6-8 weeks. he now comes every 4-6 months :)
I sympathise & this is one reason that I learned to trim in the first place. I call it 'farrier's disease' because it's just so common... tho to be fair, it seems to be 'tradies disease' generally. Common courtesy seems to be anything but these days & whether you want/need the work or not, it costs very little time & money in returning calls to say so at least!
Some tips that may be helpful... Ring & book a farrier at least a week or few before your horses are due. We all have busy lives & although my 'books' are not full at present, there are many times when I can't fit someone in for a fortnight or so. When you get a good farrier, make the next appointment when they're there for the current one. When leaving messages, ask for them to be returned, even if the farrier can't fit you in or doesn't want your business. At least if you specifically request it, their conscience may get the better of their lack of courtesy! At least they may be able to suggest another option if they're not willing or able. Let the farrier know that your horses are well behaved/easy to trim, or if not, explain why & offer to pay him extra for extra time it may take, or a reasonable fee for the booking/travel if the work can't be done through no fault of his. If you're out in the sticks, offer to pay for travel, or trailer your horses to the farrier, or fit in with other visits he may have to the area.
For reasons of unreliable/unobtainable farriers, as well as in between visit maintenance and understanding principles & factors that effect hoof health & soundness, I agree with Walkin, that it's best to learn theory & practice for yourselves. Doesn't necessarily mean you take on the whole job(& even for those who want to, I reckon it's important to keep hold of a good professional for regular visits for some time at least), but it will enable you to understand what's what & at least give some emergency care when you're stuck.
While maintenance trimming(as opposed to corrective, treating pathologies, etc) is far from rocket science, I think it's vital to have a good grasp of what lies beneath & the biomechanics & factors that effect the hooves, because what you do - or don't will effect the horse. So learning theory is just as important - no, more so - as practice IMO.
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