That sounds Farrier…

Some of the most interesting barn conversation I have ever had has come from farriers.  I could write a whole series of blog posts on farriers I have known and the stories they have told but I wouldn’t want to be excluded from future stories, they’re too great!  Both horses had to be shod yesterday so Farrier and I had a long time to talk.  As horse professionals in the same community the experiences we have with different horses, owners, vets, barn owners and other members of the community parallel each other. 

We were talking about toe clips and side clips and the effect of each on different shaped hooves and he recounted a telephone conversation he had with a young farrier that had called him to ask a few questions about shoeing.  The young fellow had asked how he felt about toe clips, and the response was that he would have to see a picture of the hooves in question.  The question was, of course, hypothetical so the young farrier asked “just on the average, everyday horse”.  This is once again, an unanswerable question as the “everyday horse” varies widely depending on the individual’s clients and even among those clients the hooves will not be the same.

This is a question that mirrors one that I think about in the training process from time to time, especially when it comes to training horses that have come to a trainer with previous baggage or are horses non-traditional to the discipline in which they are being trained.  Many strict classicists write that there is one way to correctly train.  I am not disputing any of these techniques, they are all proven effective.   It is presumed in most writings, I believe, that the horse has been started correctly and that it is of an “everyday type of horse” that the author is used to seeing.  It would be difficult to write a book addressing every type of previous training issue or every approach for different breed types, but I contend that horses must be treated as individuals, and a classical approach should be the desired standard but allowances must be made for the individual.

Whether you are talking about hooves, horses or students a philosophy or program must have a sound and proven structure.  But the professional must be able to see the client as an individual, with a history of its own, in order to determine if inherent or learned traits must be addressed in a manner that humanely directs them back to the classical structure.    The goal is the same, the path must always be humane but the history, conformation, or psyche of the hoof, horse or client must be taken into consideration if a classical result is to be achieved.

16 thoughts on “That sounds Farrier…

  1. “Average” represents such a ridiculous variation. The average horse at the barn I board at is a WB or WBx, 15.0-16.2 hands. My friend boards a couple miles away. The average horse there is a Quarter horse or paint, 14.0-15.0 hands. There is a huge variation in personality, conformation, and care. I really can’t even compare the two.

    And yes, farriers are awesome.

  2. The farrier has always been my favorite person to talk to. They are a wealth of knowledge on training, they always seem to know exactly what’s going on with a horse just by looking at the feet! Plus, they have the absolute best barn gossip!

    I consider myself a “classical” rider/trainer, in that I base my training on the classical methods. But I don’t always work with classical breeds, so I often need to adapt. I’m a big fan of knowing the theory behind what I’m doing. I think it makes it easier to adapt. If I tried to just follow a “recipe” it would be a huge disaster, especially since there seems to be no such thing as an average horse!

      1. Farriers are the hair dressers and bar tenders of the horse world! What would we do without them?

  3. One of the most valuable lessons I ever learned was from a farrier! He was sick and unable to do the horses’ feet at a barn in Germany! I called another farrier,which was an absolute no no!!!! They expect absolute loyalty and they will come through and do their absolute best for you and your horse.

  4. I’ve really enjoyed your blog!! Regarding Farriers- I train and race my arabians for endurance (I am very interested in dressage too as it will only help us move and communicate better) my farrier didn’t seem to be able to keep us on a regualar schedule and that made it very difficult when i had a race scheduled. In my frustration, I had the shoes pulled and began my research. My horses seem to move better, longer strides and wth better engagement. Many horses do a lot of ring work, so I don’t even understand why they even have shoes?? My mare did 50 miles barefoot and she moved fantastically. They do have protective boots/wear for rugid terrain rides- but why is there a need for shoeing if training in the ring is the majority of the terrain?? Cinsider going barefoot- i love it!! (so do my horses)

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! There is a lot of interest and theorizing about staying barefoot and also “natural shoeing”. I wish I could leave my horses barefoot, it would save a lot of money! I have two different problems…the warmbloods feet are good and he probably could go barefoot and be fine but most of the arenas I ride him in are a mixture of M-10 and riversand and with regular work it seems to wear them down too much. I guess it works similar to an emory board. I tried to keep the TB mare barefoot and within the trimming cycle she chipped them up horribly. She is also so sensitive and melodramatic that any stones she encounteres on the way to her pasture cause her to walk like she’s being tortured! I believe most Arabs have exceptionally good feet. You are lucky! I am interested in endurance and am also interested in the protective boots/wear you use for rugged terrain. I mentioned your comment to my farrier and I am going to email him some questions about this and some other shoeing mysteries. I will write a post on it when I receive his reply. Thank you so much for participating in the discussion. I really enjoy perspectives from other disciplines and your input gives me a topic in which to write! Please drop in and join the discussions when you can and if you have any more good ideas for posts let me know!!

      1. All 6 of my arabs go barefoot-
        UNLESS: we are racing a rocky 50 miler,
        or somebody has a bruise- which seems rare (no ouchy moving). I have raced barefoot over a 50miler w/ no problem.
        I really think the barefoot horse is a healthier horse- unless there are specific issues the horse needs support with, for whatever reason- but it usually seems that most issues are due to human error, incorrect angles or overfeeding of rich feed.

  5. Thank you for your response/reply- I guess it truly comes down to one size doesn’t fit all!
    I’m in San Diego and we have dry ground/weather- so our issues are probably very different from many other parts of the country- but i sure appreciate the different perspectives and feedback- thanks!

  6. @ Crystal- Our horses go barefoot about 90%+ of the time. Putting boots on a horse is not at all the same method of shoeing. They are bootless anytime they are at home, and during most of our endurance traiing rides, always bootless in the arena, etc. And we only use boots for a special occasion- aka-too rocky or sharp surfaces.

    A horses foot that is being shod has much of the calloused (or what should be calloused) sole dug out, filed dead flat, etc etc. This would not be the natural shape of a natural foot. Putting metal bars and nailing the shoe to a hoof that should be allowed to FLEX, expand and absorb the concussion of a horses weight and activity asked of it- keeps the foot from moving, flexing and pumping the blood through it that it would naturally do or require to be healthy. Even the frog isn’t allowed to be pressed and pumped as it was meant to be. I don’t think nature can really be beat here- again, unless their is an unusual need. I think trimming and balancing is important- especially if horses are made to sit for hours at a time in a stall w/ soft ground. But i have seen first hand how my horses stride and movement have all improved after i’ve pulled shoes.

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