My Goal when trimming or shoeing a horse is to make it as comfortable as possible, enhancing athletic performance and overall condition. Too many horse owners mistakenly believe that a farrier can correct hoof, leg, and conformation conditions. Even though some unscrupulous farriers are willing to encourage this belief, it is truly a fallacy. Angular limb deformities, hoof deformities (such as a club foot), and founder are permanent conditions that can be therapeutically treated but never corrected. The condition can be temporarily improved, but it will always exist. What matters to me most is this:
There are a few basic items of mutual respect I expect from my clients: You will call me in a timely manner to cancel an appointment; your check will clear the bank; you will mail payment to me immediately if I invoice you because you forgot your check book; you will keep your horse on a 6 or 8 week shoeing/trim cycle to insure the hoof health of your horse;and you will properly train your horse to stand quietly for the farrier.
I am frequently approached by people and asked to look at a horse that has lameness issues. I am not a veterinarian, and although I am happy to give you my professional opinion as to immediate hoof health, I will not diagnose lameness or other medical conditions, nor will I suggest a treatment plan. I WILL work closely with your veterinarian in developing a hoof care regimen that will hopefully maximize comfort for your horse, with the highest degree of professionalism. Please be aware that I will shoe a lame horse only after a veterinarian has been consulted about the condition and a treatment plan has been formulated for the horse.
There has been the occasional horse, however, that has taken every opportunity to test both my physical and emotional limits. The physical challenges have included leaning on me, stomping on my foot, repeatedly jerking a foot away, and at least two instances of soft warning kicks from physically sore horses. Emotional challenges have included anxiety or fear-based hyperactivity, estrus-related moodiness in mares, extreme stubbornness, and unreasonable fear of my tools.
Regardless of the cause, there is great potential for significant harm to me from a horse that will not cooperate or is acting excessively naughty. I tend to be very patient, and will make an honest attempt to ease your horse through its mood. The next step would be to use a training aide that is very effective in controlling a horse if its behavior starts to esculate into a confrontation. This aide is called a “nerve line”. It is a thin cotton rope that is positioned under the upper lip of your horse: it is tightened when the horse does a “bad” behavior and loosened during “good” behavior, a “pressure/release” form of training. This nerve line also stimulates the release of endomorphins into your horses brain, calming it.
The only time I will ever strike a horse is if it kicks out at me, even a small warning jerk that a horse will do which extends out to the side rather than front to back. I follow the three-second rule in those circumstances: I have three seconds to clearly and forcefully convey to the horse that this action is absolutely intolerable. Only then will I loudly and immediately “pop” a horse on the offending leg with the palm of my hand, getting its attention and conveying to it my immediate anger for such an unforgivable action towards me. This quick, immediate smack always works! I have yet to have a horse kick out towards me a second time after immediately smacking it for this despicable behavior.
Of course, I’m happy to come back another day, when you have had a chance to train your horse to stand quietly and behave. I am also happy to schedule training sessions with your horse if you would prefer to pay someone else to train your horse to stand. I charge $45 for a half hour session, with a minimum of three consequtive days in a given week.
My final recourse is to refer you to another farrier who works with problem horses. Unless you want to pay my mortgage, assorted bills, and provide food for my family because I’m injured – please do not expect me to work on your horse if it is exhibiting out-of-control behavior or refuses to cooperate with me.