New to the area? Just getting started in horses? Taking over the farm? From time to time, we find ourselves facing the need to choose a new farrier. This is no small decision. Don’t just call the first farrier’s number you see pinned to the bulletin board at the feed store! We have five steps to finding and keeping the right farrier for you and your horse.
1. Start with the right recommendations. The first person to ask about a farrier should be your veterinarian, followed by trainers and barn owners with visibly happy, sound horses. Although it’s tempting to try and cut corners with the lowest price, especially when it’s “just” a trim or “just” simple front shoes for a no-nonsense horse, there’s no room for error with your horse’s hooves. Your farrier choice should be based on the trust of the professional community.
2. Do you research. Once you have a list of farriers your community has recommended, take a look online and find out a little more about their education and credentials. The American Farrier’s Association (AFA) is a good source of information on farriers throughout the United States. Their Find-A-Farrier tool is searchable by city, state, and last name, and will share the farrier’s certification level. The highest level awarded by the AFA is the CJF (Certified Journeyman Farrier). If you’re looking for a professional who takes their work seriously, look for a certified farrier.
3. Watch the farrier at work. If you have the opportunity, pay a house call to a farm where the farrier is working. Take a look at the farrier’s attitude with horses, making sure it’s a sensible and unthreatening approach. Also look at the farrier’s tools and equipment. Is your potential farrier working with well-kept and up-to-date equipment? How reliable does the farrier’s vehicle look? Remember, you’re looking for the person responsible for your horse’s lifelong soundness. It’s okay to be picky and make sure they are driving a truck or vehicle that won’t put them out of service for days on end when they should be working on your horse’s hooves.
4. Have a conversation. Call the farrier or make a consultation appointment so you can be sure it’s the right fit. Listen for clues about how responsive the farrier will be to your needs and opinions on your horse’s care. While you may not be the professional in this particular relationship, you want your opinions to count for something! The ideal farrier will treat your views with respect and offer educated responses. Also be sure the farrier is familiar with your sport, if you compete, and understands potential risks, as well as sport regulations. If your horse needs therapeutic shoeing, make sure the farrier has experience with those methods.
5. Keep the relationship going. Once you have decided on your new farrier, make sure the lines of communication remain open. When your farrier comes, make time to converse and make sure you’re completely updated on your horse’s condition. Share any relevant information about the way your horse is moving, recent steps in training, and medical care your horse might have required. Welcome the farrier onto your team, because the two of you, along with your veterinarian, are just that – a team producing the healthiest, happiest horse you possibly can.