In some areas of the UK there are lots of farriers to choose from, while in other areas there is less choice, but once you have found a good farrier it’s important for both parties to keep communicating to ensure that your horse’s hooves get the best possible care.
Some owners complain about their farrier being difficult to reach, repeatedly showing up late, or even not showing up at all. But before you blame your farrier, remember that working with horses doesn’t always go as expected and delays can be unavoidable.
“It always comes back to communication,” says Mike Poe of Alpha Farrier Services. “If we let things be assumed, disagreements can arise. We always want the same thing: a sound, happy horse.”
He recommends discussing with your farrier which method of communication works best for them and then sticking with it. In Mike’s case he prefers text messages, which allows him to cover the points he needs to mention when he is free between clients. Your farrier should also have your contact details so they can contact you if they are unavoidably delayed.
Most farriers will do their best to accommodate you if your horse loses a shoe in between regular shoeings, but may be less keen if you extend the period between visits until the shoes are loose. In order to keep everyone’s appointments on time, respect your farrier’s schedule by booking well in advance and being on time for your appointment with your horse ready. And don’t expect them to fit in extra horses that weren’t booked in.
To Mark Plumlee, owner of Mission Farrier School, listening is central to communication. “Be reasonable in your expectation and be a good listener. Your farrier may tell you things about your horse that you don’t want to know, but are in everyone’s best interests.”
Having your horse ready for the farrier, also means training your horse to be happy to have his feet worked on. If your horse is difficult to shoe then it’s not unreasonable for your farrier to charge a little more for the extra time involved.
Overall a little bit of respect goes a long way – and a cup of tea/coffee/biscuits/bacon roll even further! Respect the hard work your farrier is doing and avoid direct criticism. If you have a problem, discuss it in a calm and reasonable manner, then everyone benefits – including the horse.
Keith Templeton edits The Farrier Guide to education and employment