Thursday, August 9, 2012

On Trimming Hooves and Farriers

Farriers- they're a dime a dozen. So why is it so damn hard to find a good one? A reliable one; one that doesnt end up busted up or burnt out; one who doesnt suddenly jump on the current fad or one-size-fits-all-band-wagon; or one who doesnt fall off the wagon?  Having owned horses for over seventeen years I've met my fair share of both the good and the bad. My biggest challenge has always been finding a good reputable (read popular) farrier willing to come out to trim just one horse. Luckily, I've never had a horse with special needs and so was able to get by with whatever farrier was coming out for a fellow boarder. That is, up until last year when I hit a road block. I was using an old friend, Chrissy, who was fresh out of farrier school to take care of both Marm and Ella (formally Princess). Chrissy did a great job as she was conscientious and took her time. Both horses were barefoot and sound, or so we thought.

 Long story short is that Marm had some issue and after being nerve blocked by the vet we were told she had some issues with her feet (that was unrelated to the farrier work Chrissy had done and that we hadnt previously noticed). The vet recommended a farrier with the experience to do some corrective blacksmithing and pads. I didnt want Chrissy to come all the way out just to do Ella and so we ended up changing both horses over to another farrier. The result being that Marm ended up seriously buggered and rather than fixing a problem we couldnt even see to we ended up creating a problem that left her with misshapen feet and dead lame. It was at about this time that I got Hola home.  Her front right foot was just a little out of shape and flat and she was a litte off on it. This "little bit off" on the right lead to a big problem on the left (which I will get to in another post). Hola and Marm were both in need of a better than average farrier and we still had Ella who still needed just a basic trim. The Hunt for a Good Farrier was on.

Luckily Marm's old farrier (who had retired a few years ago) took pity on her and committed to treating Marm until her feet get back to normal. However, she wasn't able to do Hola or Ella. I found a farrier to do Hola but he ended up being completely unreliable. I lost him after just one trim. Out of pure desperation I picked up a rasp and trimmed my first hoof. No one died. I only bled a little. So far both horses are still standing on four sound feet. 

*dances a little Rocky on the steps victory jig*

I am still completely and utterly terrified that I am going to permanently or seriously lame Ella and Hola. But at the same time I feel so empowered and emboldened to take responsibility for my own horses feet. Have now learned the very basics (I hope) I want to advocate every horse owner to learn the basics of trimming, even if you never pick up a rasp yourself. I know a few of my blogger buddies are die-hard barefooters or natural hoof trimmers so I invite anyone with any links they wish to share to do so here. I hope to do a few posts here over the next month on what I've found out there in the vast recesses of cyberspace (do they even call it cyberspace anymore?)

Like most things in the horse world, the more I try to find information about hoof care the more I realize just how little I know and how much there is left to learn... I've also realized how difficult it is to find two horsemen of a like opinion. Which is hardly a surprise, eh? (I love being Canadian).


  1. It always makes me happy to hear when a horse owner takes up the rasp. That is most definitely one of the most empowering feelings you can get when it comes to horse care.

    As for all the varying opinions...ppsshhhhttt...trimming feet does not have to be fancy or difficult. If a person does nothing more than keep the excess hoof trimmed off, heels leveled and flares kept in check...that's good enough for the vast majority of horses.

  2. This is one topic that I want so much to know more about. I'm about to need a new farrier again and it just gives me the willies! My girl is barefoot, I should be able to do this myself. Maybe this is the kick in the pants I need to finally learn!

  3. Ah, I'm smug and blessed to have had a reliable, educated and straight up awesome farrier for years now. Our relationship has outlasted many marriages. *Sigh of pure happiness*

    However the thought of having to find a new one... chills down the spine... good luck on your continued adventure.

    FYI - I believe the latest term is "cloud". lol :)

    PS - good to have you back in blogger land. And I'd like some utd pics on Hola... just say'n.