I have resorted to using an alter for the first time ever! Here we go....how do you know if you farrier is not good? I am the barn manager at a 25 horse pleasure/show barn. The horses are primarily warmbloods with a few TB's and ponies. They are all fed good quality hay, grain specific to their needs, supplements specific to their needs (some of the horses are on hoof supplements). Horses get turned out for 4-10 hrs depending on the time of the year and the horse. Turnout is either a grass field or a dry lot which is sometimes mud (not ankle deep mud but mid hoof mud if it has just rained). Horses that are known shoe pullers or have not normal shoes (bars, pads, etc) wear bell boots for turnout. Area of the country is Zone 2.
Here's the problem. We have had our farrier for over 8 years now. He has managed to do some amazing things like keep a club footed horse sound for a number of years that a vet had said would never be sound and should be put down. Keep shoes on a big jumper that other farriers said could never wear nail on shoes and would always need glue ons, etc. However, it seems that over the past 2 years or so a lot of our horses have now become "problem" horses whose feet look like crap 1-2 weeks after shoeing (breaking up around the nails, crumbly etc), pulled shoes, the squirt in kind of gel falling out, etc. Farrier says that it's the feet and the reasons are myriad - we bed on straw, the feet get wet from a lot of hosing during the summer, the feet get too wet because the horses are on dew soaked grass in the summer, the mud in turnout (our mud situation has improved significantly from 5 years ago), thrush, etc.
Some more info - alot of the horses are shod small/tight because he feels this keeps them from pulling shoes. He always set the nails low because, he says, if they pull shoes they won't rip off as much foot (most of them have shoes with side clips). A few of the horses look like their toes are way out in front and there is no shoe under their heel. Recently, a vet came to do a lameness eval (not related to shoeing) on a pleasure mare and commented on how bad the front feet angles were. We currently shoe most of them at 5 weeks and it's a stretch getting there. A lot of them have a loose shoe or a lost shoe before the 5 weeks. When asked about putting high nails in instead of low nails, the farrier said he would do it if asked but a lot of our horses did not have hoof wall structure to support high nails. When asked about anything else, the answer always seems to make sense (to a non farrier person like me).
However, there are some horses that have no problems at all. They rarely lose shoes, the feet don't break up, they get to 6 weeks without a problem.
At a recent away shoe, when pummeled with questions about why the feet look this way, the show farrier said he thought that our farrier was not nailing deep enough, probably because he was gun shy of sticking a horse, and the shallow nails were contributing to a lot of our problems.
So, wise ones, how do you know if your farrier is not good? This guy has obviously been with us for a long time, he's very nice and comes out within a day or 2 to replace pulled shoes at no charge (if he did charge, we probably would have changed farriers a long time ago!).
Edited to add - can anyone suggest a good performance farrier NW of Philly?
Last edited by alternatepony; Aug. 6, 2013 at 12:07 PM.
Wow, interesting that things seemed to have changed so much...same general horses, weather and other things that impact hoof quality but he's now got problems. Not buying weather conditions... I'd sure be thinking about a change, but I know its hard. Is there a way that you could try another farrier with some of the horses that are having problems? Split the work? With that many, it might not be a bad idea for a bunch of reasons.
I have a farrier who also had a tendency to shoe small w/ toes long and not enough shoe under heel. Same reasons. At least his angles were right based on xrays I had done...But mare did not have sufficient support to be comfortable in work. Not lame or even close, but more like difficulties particularly w/ lateral work. After a serious discussion w/ my trainer and her farrier (who is not local) mine agreed to change his ways. Right how he is on a trial period; shoes are still staying on in spite of his concerns, and horse is more comfortable in her dressage work.
My horse's feet grow REALLY fast, and four weeks is the limit. If he cant stick w/ the program, I have, fortunately, two back up options.
We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........
They sound short shod, heels unsupported, and that in itself will lead to problems over time. I'd be willing to bet a number of those losing shoes are underrun with long toes. So yes, if that's the case, it is a farrier problem. I do also believe that wet weather can make hooves a lot softer.. I see that in our area a lot...but not so much in New. England I'd think.
Depending on how far NW of Philadelphia, I like Tim Phillips. My trainer has used him for years and she show CCHSA and A rated. He does a variety of types of horses for her.
I have been using him for about 3 years for this horse and lost my first shoe ever with him. With the previous farrier I was pulling them left and right even with bell boots and even bare in back. Now he has shoes in back and no need for bell boots.
My trainer is Oley and I am Pottstown not sure what his territory really is and not sure how far NW of Philadelphia you are.
Can you PM me with the name of your farrier? If you also PM me with your location I can likely provide you with a few more suggestions and maybe a few run screaming from names.
Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)
A farrier may work well for some horses but not for others. Going through the navicular nightmare this past year I would definitely be looking for a different farrier for the ones who are having issues like the underun heels and long toes (and other issues too, I'm just uber sensitive to the underun heels & long toe one). Does the BO own all these horses or are they boarders? Can the boarders decide which farrier to use and make their own decision for their own horse? Have the vet(s) and owner(s) of the horses with angle issues talked to the farrier about making these corrections and see if he's willing to make the changes? Ideally the farrier would note these issues himself and proactively say something along the lines of "let's do front feet rads and see what I can do to fix xyz" - some horses are lucky and stay sound even with crummy angles... mine was not one of them and I didn't know any better at the time.
"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse..." ~Revelation 19:11
You have a combination of problems. A farrier who seems to have no idea how to take back the toe, and leave the heels. and a farrier who is afraid to nail high, but then relies on clips to save the shoe. And he doesn't fit the shoe full enough. Any one of these things would have me wind up my "nag nag, nag, question, question, question. This, to the point where he'd be glad to be out the door.
Before you start talking, start looking.
Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.
Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.
My first thought was to ask what your vet thought but then saw you had a vet comment in there. That's a definite clue things are not good when knowledgeable strangers (?) feel it's worth commenting on.
When you said "A few of the horses look like their toes are way out in front and there is no shoe under their heel," that is exactly what was happening with my old farrier. My vet worked with my farrier to see if he could change but when he couldn't change I had to. That farrier was older and since his work seemed to be going downhill I wondered if his visions was changing... since you mention your guy has been with you 8 years, could that be a cause? Knowing won't solve your problem but it might explain why things are getting worse.
It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.
To answer some questions - he has been shoeing for over 20 years but is only 40 so I hope it's not a vision thing! We are one of those barns where we have 1 farrier (and 1 vet practice, 1 dentist etc) and the owners pay us to manage their horses (please don't flame me for this or tell me that you would never board at a barn like that. This is how our barn is managed and people know that (and want it) when they move in.). Most (but not all) of our clients simply want shoes on their horse's feet - they don't care about any of the other stuff and only get concerned when the feet look bad or they can't ride because the horse keeps losing shoes. Because of this management method, turning some horses over to another farrier is not an option. It's an all or nothing kind of thing.
As for the Cother who posted about having a horse with navicular and needing a new farrier - this farrier has done amazing things with the few navicular horses we have. One of them, specifically, is sound and the vet attributes it all to the shoeing because the horse's films are horrific. This is part of the problem - when the farrier is good, he is very, very good. When he's not, ehhhhh....or is the horse the problem?
I do the questioning thing, because I want to learn but I also have to report back to the trainer. When asked about the longish toes and low, unsupported heels the response is "that's due to his foot conformation." Not said at all in a snotty "shut up you don't know what you're talking about" kind of way. And almost all of the long toed horses are lesson horses so foot films for the point of determining angles probably is not going to happen.
Recently, one of the show horses got done at the show and came back with toe clips instead of quarter clips. When asked why he doesn't use toe clips, the farrier patiently explained that a toe clip sits into the hoof wall more than quarter clips so you have to thin the toe to get it to sit where it's supposed to. He feels that this can lead to toe cracks. As well, he feels that quarter clips keep the shoe on the foot better left to right versus having only 1 clip at the front. See? That all sounds completely reasonable to me but is it correct?
I say all of this not to make excuses for either him or myself, but to explain why I am in this quandary about what the real situation is.
OP - here's my rather unhelpful assessment based on the above...
ROCK <-------------> HARD PLACE
Next question: how many of the 25 horses are having issues? If its lesson horses, are the problems cutting into the farm's revenues due to down time? Were it me, I'd do a heart to heart talk, indicating that it seems to you that there has been a change in his style or approach that is creating the problems, as the weather related challenges have been there every year, and that even though you have been happy in the past that now its time for some adjustments. If they're pulling shoes anyway, there isn't much risk to tinkering IMO. And as others have mentioned, if you can get the name of a farrier or two, at least you would have a fall back plan.
I understand the one service provider model, but if some of the horses are lesson horses (ie presumably not a client's horse? ) I would think you could try another farrier on them. But then I don't see the whole picture, so maybe it just doesn't work.
We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........
Some more info - alot of the horses are shod small/tight because he feels this keeps them from pulling shoes. He always set the nails low because, he says, if they pull shoes they won't rip off as much foot (most of them have shoes with side clips). A few of the horses look like their toes are way out in front and there is no shoe under their heel.
The above would have me looking for a new farrier.
"If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."