I think certification show that the farrier has perseverance, and is committed to being a farrier. The guys who decide to briefly go into shoeing because it looks like a quick way to earn a buck do not get themselves certified.
I am lucky to have access to a top farrier group. Most of them have college degrees in something related to horses or animal science, as well as farrier certification. They all had years of experience with horses before they went into farrier work, as well as years of farrier experience. Each one has his own niche. My usual farrier from the group is the one who likes the big horses, including drafts. If we lose a shoe, someone in the group will have it back on in 24-48 hours. If I need therapeutic work, they can do it. The group has their own shop, a shop at the vet school hospital, and a number of trucks for farm calls. If a horse has a medical problem, the horses can be seen and x-rayed at the vet hospital, and then shod by whichever farrier is working at the hospital shop that day.
I am very fortunate to have access to this farrier group. I wish more farriers would establish this kind of a group farrier practice.
I haven't read all the posts, but I've always chosen by asking people who they use and then checking out how the horses move and perform, etc. I try to be subtle about it, but I once had a trainer (not mine, but a fellow boarder's) ask me if they could inspect my horse's feet. The trainer was very thorough and did end up using my farrier, so I guess we passed.
Skimming some of the posts here I feel like I'm way too easy
Edited to add: I really don't know what good feet look like but I do know what really crappy ones look like. I also know when a horse moves well and when it doesn't. I'm looking for a pattern, not basing it on a single horse. When I was looking for a new horse, my then farrier (who has since moved out out of the country) asked me to get pictures of the hooves for him to look at before I bought.
I'm late to the topic but as a farrier I'll add my thoughts. I'm not certified..worked under several big name trimmers at first and over the years several farriers as well as some continuing education to learn to use Epona shoes. I'd love to get more formal education but my situation just won't let that work at this time. I will try and ride with some local farrier friends to improve my shoeing skills as I can. I have no issue with the concept of certification but in the trimmer world at least, it is somewhat political and IMO gives you very little credibility for that reason. I've found my best advertising is word of mouth from satisfied clients, and I stay as busy as I want to be that way. I also, like a number of others, have not found the letters after someone's name to really make that much of a difference in the quality of their work.
I also have known a lot of farriers both before and after I started working as a hoof care provider. Word of mouth can work but it also can lead you to some duds. I once employed a farrier who people raved about to include my eventing trainer. I didn't know enough at the time to really evaluate his work but just took my trainer's advice and used him. My event horse started to turn up sore in the suspensories and my vet educated me on long toe, low heel issues and why my horse was sore. Turns out the highly recommended guy trimmed and shod ALL his clients horses like that. It was just his style and it was like he didn't "see" the problem.
Anyway, the absolute BEST way to pick a farrier is to educate yourself and learn what a well trimmed and balanced hoof should look like. Same with shoes...learn what is good work and what is not. There are tons of sources to learn from...websites (however do be careful of the credibility of some sites which make unrealistic claims) books, etc... There are books written on farriery, trimming and lameness. Read and soak it up.
Develop your eye for proper movement and dynamics. I show this to clients all the time who are surprised I want to see their horse move. I explain how the horse should land correctly; and if we see a problem, I try to explain when I see something less than ideal and options. I answer questions as best I can without being defensive about what I do and why. If your farrier won't at least do that much, than be careful. The guy who was shoeing my horse so poorly years ago was very defensive when I discussed the problem with him and I ended up having to fire him after a few attempts to work it out as he simply would not or could not adjust what he was doing. Now, looking back, I realize I could have saved myself a lot of trouble just educating myself more to begin with.
As Rick said...the difference in a horse owner and a horseman can be vast. I also suggest looking at the work of the farrier who is recommended to you. Talk to local vets also and even chiropractic type vets. They often end up fixing the results of poor farrier work which can lead to all sorts of issues higher up. So often around here someone ends up using the barn farrier for the sake of convenience; and while I certainly understand how that can happen, be engaged and make sure you are getting quality work.
I also want to add that a pretty hoof is not always a happy hoof. Certainly balance and angles are important but don't be blown away by a fancy package. Make sure you watch the results of the farrier's work in how the horse moves and performs. That is really the acid test that matters IMO.
east central Illinois and working north to the 'burbs
Originally Posted by Sfbayequine
.....She comes to me, gets her first pair of fronts a few weeks in. I did not want to do everything at once (shoes, teeth, move, etc) We left her back feet barefoot. She was sore the first time for a few days, but worked out of it. I did not talk with the farrier, but had a "trainer" who did most of the communication and was there for her first shoeing.
And the report to you about the shoeing, was...?
We just did the second one and the farrier was left to his own devices. Come up to the barn and find a note on my invoice saying she did not walk right, so there was a pad put on.
Well, at least he was paying attention and in the absence of owner input, he took the initiative to try to help your horse.
I also know bad work means pain for my horse.
It can happen with good work too...
I was PISSED that the guy did not even bother to call or discuss her care.
Did he have your contact information eg: phone number(s)?
I also flipped out because to me, pads = correction and an issue.
You need to take a deep breath and relax. In my world, there is no such thing as correction or corrective. There is correct and incorrect. And, while I carry and build a variety of 'correct' shoes, I do not have even one corrective shoe on my rig. I do however, carry a variety of shoes that I use in therapeutic situations.
Without knowing what he saw, I did not know what I needed to look for. is there special care with the pad? Is there an increased chance of thrush? Do I need a special tool to deal with picking things out from under the pad?
It Depends. If the horse is wearing a full pad, you don't pick anything out from under the pad. Other types of pads, ie: bar wedges, where you can clean out the sole and commissures, a simple hoof pick should suffice.
It took 3 phone calls and two texts but I finally got the farrier on the phone Saturday. Turns out he did not like the way she was walking (toe then heel hitting), so he put in a half pad (bar pad??), with a 2% angle.
The pad is called a bar wedge. A horse that lands toe first is presumed to be lame. Exceptions noted. Generally, the pain/problem is in the back third +/- of the hoof, ie: heels, bars, seat of corn, frog.
He he saw some bruising at the apex of her frog and her heel was not growing right.
Toe first landing can cause the bruising he noted. How, specifically, did he say the heels were growing, why did he feel that was incorrect and what is his plan to address the issues?
We had a BIG BIG conversation about the fact that I am the owner and I AM involved in her hoof care and every aspect of her health.
I hope you kept that conversation non-adversarial.
Not sure if I can/should/want to work with this guy, but at the same time I set him up to think I was a moron and hiding behind my trainer/lesson girl (topic for another post...).
Remember, don't throw the baby out with the bath water, just yet.
I can tell you that from my untrained eye and the good eye of the barn manager she is hitting heel toe. She does seem lighter and is moving more easily and she was barely sore this time.
Then the farrier, by adding the pad, did the right thing. Instead of excoriating him, you should be thanking him.
His explanation seems plausible, but since this is the only the second time she has had shoes pretty much in her life, I just naively would have thought the farrier would have been able to manage her feet since he put on the first shoes and did the trims so that she would not need a corrective pad the second time. Perhaps again, that is just me not understanding. I have never had a horse that needed pads or could not grow a heel.
A noted, the pad is adjunctive, and there is no such thing as corrective. Therapeutic yes, corrective, no.
What is absolutely baffling to me is this trainer deals with it mentality and owners not wanting to know what is going on. I was a teenager and had my horses I never had a trainer. My parents told me that if I wanted a horse then I was going to have to manage everything. I had really good people supporting me, but I met with the farrier, with the vets... everything that had to do with the horse I took care of. Now it seems that people use these trainer/instructors to manage everything, so all they get is filtered info... at least at my barn that is the case. I don't like it!!
Welcome to the world of dilettante horse owners and, for that matter, trainers.
I think because my referrals are tainted from the trainer, I just don't know how to know if the farrier has good info/insight and if he does try to educate me what my checks and balance will be on the info.
Trust and respect. If you don't have that, then you're SOL with this farrier.
I read everything and try to gain as much info as possible. Not to contradict, but so that I can at least grasp concepts.
If you're coming to the internet for much of that information, then you better have a BS detector in good working order because much of what you read is going to be very bad advice and/or opinion. At this stage of the game, it seems that you are, as of now, having difficulty separating the wheat from the chaff.
I just feel like I need to go to farrier school to keep up and understand the practices.
Nah, but the service provider whether that be the vet, the farrier, the hay man, the grain man, whomever, should be a to give you at least basic information and explanations. And, when in doubt or confused, write down what was said so you can take your time and digest it properly. Then, you'll be able to do some research of your own.