So, I’ve held a lot of different horses over the years for quite a few farriers and while some of the things that you shouldn’t do seem pretty obvious, I got curious and asked my current farrier (shout out to Mike for answers my questions while he was putting shoes on Bella) what five things farriers really hate. Here’s the answers I got.
- Showing up to a wet horse.
Honestly I was really surprised by this answer. I mean, once he explained it to me it made perfect sense, but it’s nothing I would have realized on my own. According to Mike, trying to be polite and wash your horse off before your farrier gets under them can be more annoying than sweet. If you’re like me, you’re going “uhhh, what?” Never fear, just time to use some logic. If you’re washing your horse off five minutes before your farrier gets there, or if they’re out in the rain and not able to dry off before your farrier arrives, who’s going to get wet? Your farrier. They are underneath your horse, holding up their legs, having to get up close and personal. The last thing they’re excited about, especially on a chilly rainy day, is having water soaking through their shirt and jeans. If you are being conscious and want to help your farrier out by getting some of the mud/dirt off it’s suggested that you show up with enough time for the horse to fully dry or just take the time to brush them off. Your farrier would rather deal with dirt and some mud than get stuck being damp for the rest of the day.
2. Giving treats for bad behavior.
Okay, this one surprised me. It seems so basic. You do not reward your horse for bad behavior. Ever. The excuses that “oh he’ll stand better if I give him a treat,” “oh I’ll just distract him with food,” “he didn’t mean it,” “he’s upset because he knows I have food,” “you’re upsetting him,” etc, are not appreciated. A person is hunched over, half underneath your horse. If they act up they are putting someone at risk and said person is not going to appreciate you rewarding your horse for that bad behavior. *Your horse should stand with or without food. Your horse should not need to be distracted. Your horse does actually mean things, even if they are just testing the waters. Unless they genuinely spook it’s not acceptable to brush off bad behavior. Your horse should wait for you to offer him a treat, any horse that is willing to act out for cookies is not a horse I would want to be underneath. If your farrier accidentally trims a horse too short, if they accidentally put in a hot nail, if something happens that is their fault, generally they admit it. Most farriers I’ve interacted with admit when something is their fault. So if your farrier isn’t, probably want to look at that behavior. Remember, someone is willing to put a lot of stress on their body to ensure that your horse’s feet are healthy. You might want to show them some respect.
*Disclaimer: There are ALWAYS special circumstances HOWEVER if farrier’s still have it at the top of their “not cool lists” then it’s happening way too often and without actual, good, reasons for the behavior.
3. Having a client tell you how to do your job.
Guys. Do people really still do this? Do I even have to write a paragraph here? Do not tell your farrier how to do their job. If you would like to make requests then sure fine. I’ve requested that Bella’s toes be trimmed shorter. I’ve requested her shoes be tucked in underneath her heel more. I’ve requested side clips, front clips, and I’ve requested that a farrier not dig out abscesses. Guess what, by not telling my farrier how to do their job I had them asking why I wanted it and after I explained my reasoning, and asked for their opinion, they were able to offer extra insight. There will be instances where you have a farrier you just don’t mesh with well. My suggestion in those cases, get a new farrier. There is no reason to tell them how to do their job and there is no reason for you to be uncomfortable. I love my current farrier, and I’ve had a few I wasn’t nearly as comfortable with and therefore I switched. not that they harmed my horse, but it’s important to trust the people working on your horse, especially if you’re not there.
4. People on the phone while they’re supposed to be minding their horse.
This one ties right into with #2. The way it was explained to me, because I had a “what?” moment on this one. People on their phones are less likely to be giving enough attention to the horse. For horses that aren’t straight forward (stick in the cross-ties and walk away) owner’s tend to stop paying as much attention and then when something bad happens they’re either late to react or simply give the wrong reaction. Bella’s actually really good, most of the time, but I’ll admit (sorry Mike) that sometimes I’m on my phone or trying to handle something else and not holding her (we don’t have cross-ties where she is right now) and she’ll get bored of standing still (she has a time limit on how long she’s willing to ground tie, but it’s getting longer) and she’ll walk away. I always bring her right back but it wouldn’t be an issue if I’d just figure everything out before he got there. I’m working on it.
5. Putting horse over farrier safety.
Again this sort of relates to #2. This one is probably one of the biggest debates I have ever seen, and I’m going to explain my position on this. Should you let your farrier discipline your horse? Yeah. You should. If your thousand pound (or smaller, ponies can hurt people too) horse is acting out and your farrier is the one who could potentially get hurt they should absolutely be allowed to discipline your horse. I’m not saying they should beat the crap out of your horse, that’s wrong. I’m saying they should be able to react appropriately. If you’re going to freak out because your horse that is constantly wrenching their hoof out of the farrier’s grasp gets smacked lightly, then you should do your horses feet yourself. These guys have a lot of body issues from their work. Hands, knees, shoulders, backs… they deal with a lot of pain and you know what makes it worse? Horses that are constantly acting out and doing things that they know are wrong. Babies get some leeway because, well babies need to learn (however it is your job to teach your baby not to be a jerk). Again, I’m not saying to let your farrier just wail on your horse, but they should not have to deal with horses that are intentionally acting out. If you aren’t there, or aren’t paying attention, let the farrier at least do his job and keep himself safe and get your horse’s feet taken care of.
Bella gets a gold star almost every time Mike comes out. He’s even gone out, gotten her from the pasture, done her feet, and turned her out for me. Called me and told me to bring her a bucket of treats the next time I came out because she was perfect. So I’m glad to know that even though I totally end up on my phone (or running around doing various chores) while he’s working on Bella’s feet, that he doesn’t hate me. However after consistent daily work with her as a two year old Bella is, in Mike’s words, “one of the most behaved horses to work on.” That is something I am incredibly proud of. And yes, she gets glowing reports from the vet on her behavior too.
Take care of your farrier, you need them to take care of your horse.
*Also sorry that all references to farrier’s in this post are male. I know there are female farriers, but for the contest of this I just used male pronouns. My bad.