Specialist in Barefoot Trimming?
Can someone explain to me in detail what happens when a horse's front feet are left too long? (I recently had an Equine Chiropractor target this as a primary problem in some of my mare's shoulder tension issues. Problem is, she had just had her feet done the week before the chiro pointed this out. In addition, she gets her hooves trimmed on a 6-8 week schedule.)
I was given the name of a farrier that specializes in examining the horse's confirmation and trimming based on that and other comprehensive factors. Has anyone noticed any differences in a "barefoot specialist" v.s. a all around "common" farrier? (I like my farrier. I just don't have the skills necessary to truly assess that he has done a proper job that contributes to and compliments her training and movement.)
This "barefoot specialist" charges over double what I currently pay now for farrier services. Is it worth it?
Before you hire anyone to take care of your horses feet get references and find out how they learned the trade and how long they have been practicing. Calling yourself a barefoot trimmer or a farrier does not bestow any magical powers on you. Having a box full of tools doesn't mean they know how to use them so be a good consumer and check on them. The same goes for equinne chiro's.
I agree with Kevin!
The thing about her feet being left "too long" is that they could have been too long for her, as in Frida. Lacey, for instance, starts tripping and hitting herself with her hooves if they are even a centimeter too long. Her feet grow so slowly that she's on an 8 week schedule and the farrier only rasps her feet each time, no actual trimming. Last time, she was left 10 weeks and she was tripping REALLY badly and the farrier only took off about a centimeter of growth, if that. Also, different farriers trim at different lengths. I take lessons every once in a while at a western pleasure show barn and their farrier leaves the horses hooves SO long. It's basically like all the horses are standing on platform shoes, and that's just the way the farrier trims them. There isn't a set "perfect length" that all farriers trim the hooves to. They each have their own opinions about these things.
My farrier is a "barefoot trimmer." I don't think she calls herself a specialist, but she may. She's a certified farrier who changed over to barefoot. I noticed a HUGE difference between the "normal" farrier and barefoot. The normal farrier would just trim Lacey's hooves but the barefoot farrier trims for how Lacey is built and how she moves. She strives to improve Lacey's movement and her comfort level through the trimming, unlike the normal farrier who used to do Lacey. Lacey is moving better than she ever has and she's not tripping nearly as much! Haha
If you aren't sure how your current farrier is doing, I''d suggest taking pictures of Frida's hooves and posting them. I did that with Lacey when I first got this barefoor lady because I didn't have the knowledge to tell whether she was good or bad. There are some extremely knowledgeable people on this board that can really show you each and everything going on with your horse's hooves, through just some pictures. If you do that, take centered side pictures of the hooves and sole views. I think I'd do that first, just to make sure, especially if this other farrier is a lot more expensive.
Here's the page I used to find my barefoot trimmer (I sent it to the northeast section for you): The Horse's Hoof: Professional Trimmers List
I just emailed a bunch of them asking prices and telling them a little about Lacey and the ones that responded, I asked for references and then I went from there. So maybe there's a trimmer near you that's just as good only maybe a little cheaper. I know I only pay $30, with a $5 trip fee, but I'm sure things are more expensive over on the east coast. :D
Well, right after I posted this thread, he called and came out to trim Fri. I really liked him, and he was extremely knowledgeable about his trade. I found out he is not a barefoot specialist perse, but he has over 20 years of experience and is an active member in many organizations that seek to provide continuing education for farriers, as well as improve the horse's well-being from a holistic perspective. I live in Connecticut, and he trims for rich and famous people in fairfield county, which is full of tres chic people. (Not that it matters much, but his stories were fun to listen to) He drew me diagrams and took measurements and it was all very technical, lol. He was the first farrier that asked to see her move before he touched her feet, lol. He actually spent about 10 minutes just watching how she grazed and acted in the field, something about which hoof she puts out in front of her and which hooves sustain most of the balancing chores. I will post pictures, as the difference was instantly noticeable. Getting her to stand square is a difficult feat, but at the end of the trim it seemed like she was doing it more naturally.
He said a big part of her probably was that she has great feet but that her heels grow fast . I guess most farriers leave the heel alone? He said this creates a contracted hoof and unbalances the horse, and actually puts pressure on the navicular bone? He guided me towards some pretty good books that allow the lay person get a better feel for how things should be done. I also appreciate that he took notes on her.
Downside is I paid 100.00. For a trim. Oh well, in 6 weeks he said it would only be 80.00. 20.00 for consultation and corrective work? I'll have the pics up soon.
There are unfortunately good & bad 'hoof care practitioners' out there, as well as good & bad farriers. It doesn't necessarily follow that all hcp's are the best thing since sliced bread any more than believing all farriers are incompetent & don't understand enough about hoof function. There are also those who charge like wounded bulls & those who don't. I personally charge more for a first trim, because there is generally a lot more work to do, and I spend time going over the horse's management & helping owners understand & work out what might be best for each situation. Thereafter I don't tend to charge more than most farriers(tho it does depend on the horse & situation), because I'm in it for the sake of the horse, and also I think it's unhelpful to my business to make it too expensive, because I want people able to afford to get me back often enough!
I would advise you to first & foremost do your own homework. Learn what principles & guidelines you need to understand to have a good idea of how your horse is being trimmed & what's going on inside. There are also a lot more factors besides trimming that effect the health of hooves, such as diet, environment, exercise, etc. Hopefully this guy has given you a whole lot of info & sources already, to start your learning, but hoofrehab.com is one great, comprehensive site which will start you off on a good wicket.
...And you might even find you'd like to learn & do the work yourself. Hopefully this hcp or another good one you might find will be willing to help you learn. Even if you don't want to do the whole job, learning how to wield a rasp & do 'brush ups' in between proper trims will help your horse and also possibly enable you to stretch trim schedules a little further, to be more affordable. **Of course this is best done with good understnding of the theory as well as lots of hands-on & well supervised help.
I am glad you like your new trimmer. He may seem expensive, but to your horse a good caring trimmer is worth his weight in gold. He sounds like he has a genuine care for hooves and proper shape and trimming.Hopefully your horse will begin to move much more free and happy now that she is being trimmed properly.
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