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Choosing a new farrier...

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  • #21
    I just signed up my horse's feet for a Geico commercial.

    Comment


    • #22
      Originally posted by Rick Burten View Post
      Charlie, I appreciate your kind words and your advice to look at hooves that have been under any given farrier's care for some time, is a good one. That said, what do happy feet look like? And, given the level of knowledge that most horse owners have regarding hooves, how is a horse owner to determine whether the feet are happy or not?
      Well some horse owners, when in doubt PM Rick.

      And then sometimes they also find a new farrier.
      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.

      Comment


      • #23
        I ask for referrals from vets/owners that I respect, and then look at the work of that person to make sure that their idea of good is what I'm looking for. I try to find farriers who work on horses with feet similar to my horses. Maybe this guy is lights-out for the QH show horse, or laminitis, or whatever, but sucks at handling underrun heels, etc.
        Occasionally I will see a really nice job, and I always ask the owner who their farrier is.
        Certification from the AFA is a nice touch, but lack of certification isn't a big deal to me. There are lots of excellent farriers without any extra letters after their names, and vice versa. When I have been totally stuck for ideas I WILL look for a CJF, as that at least gives the idea of basic competence for handling common issues and blacksmithing.
        As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

        Comment


        • #24
          I considered finding a new farrier last year but after looking for recommendations from trainers, a farrier at my show barn, my vet and other horse owners it seems I'm better off with the devil I know. There is no way I would have gotten three farriers to interview. BTW the caveat I heard most often was they didn't always show up. And I really need to find someone new. My current farrier tacked a shoe back on my sometimes laminitic mare and failed to let me know that she was in trouble and I should call the vet. When I had the vet out myself and he called the farrier to discuss the case, the farrier said oh yeah, I noticed that and meant to call but got busy. Really? You left my horse in pain? Recently he shod my show horse and told me he had white line in all 4 feet. His recommendation was to buy a treatment and squirt it on. After doing some research and thinking about it, I didn't understand why he didn't treat the horse before nailing on the shoes.

          If anyone knows 3 farriers worth interviewing in the North Texas area I'd love to have their names.

          Comment


          • #25
            Originally posted by pal-o-mino View Post
            Yeah, I find those letters don't mean a whole lot, as described above. It's trial and word of mouth. Kind of like finding a hairdresser.
            I think you would have a hard time finding an unlicensed hairdresser as they would be working in the black market rather than a legitimate business establishment. And I'm sure that most people don't know or care what is involved in getting a cosmetology or barber's license. But the state can at least serve the public interest by having some assurance that the license holder met certain minimum standards of knowledge and skill. The license doesn't prevent anyone from getting a bad hair cut.

            Likewise with certification. The test provides evidence that the candidate meets certain minimum standards of skills and knowledge. It doesn't prevent a farrier from doing a bad job.

            Comment


            • #26
              Originally posted by Rick Burten View Post
              That said, what do happy feet look like? And, given the level of knowledge that most horse owners have regarding hooves, how is a horse owner to determine whether the feet are happy or not?
              Tom has the idea,

              I am under the impression that most horse man/woman would know a good foot when they see it. Seems like a lot of people here know bad ones or at least poor care when it is seen.
              Charlie Piccione
              Natural Performance Hoof Care

              Comment


              • #27
                Originally posted by Charlie Piccione View Post
                Tom has the idea,

                I am under the impression that most horse man/woman would know a good foot when they see it. Seems like a lot of people here know bad ones or at least poor care when it is seen.
                That's how I found a trimmer when I first moved back here. Saw a horse with fabulous feet and asked her who did them. No letters required.

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by Tom Bloomer View Post
                  I think you would have a hard time finding an unlicensed hairdresser as they would be working in the black market rather than a legitimate business establishment. And I'm sure that most people don't know or care what is involved in getting a cosmetology or barber's license. But the state can at least serve the public interest by having some assurance that the license holder met certain minimum standards of knowledge and skill. The license doesn't prevent anyone from getting a bad hair cut.

                  Likewise with certification. The test provides evidence that the candidate meets certain minimum standards of skills and knowledge. It doesn't prevent a farrier from doing a bad job.
                  Lots of people graduate from beauty school, they even pass the test. You won't get cooties, but you may get a mirror breaking haircut.

                  Just cause a farrier can pound steel and make a shoe, which a blacksmith can do, doesn't mean he's competent to shoe anything but the totally uncomplicated horse.
                  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.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by Tom Bloomer View Post
                    I think you would have a hard time finding an unlicensed hairdresser as they would be working in the black market rather than a legitimate business establishment. And I'm sure that most people don't know or care what is involved in getting a cosmetology or barber's license. But the state can at least serve the public interest by having some assurance that the license holder met certain minimum standards of knowledge and skill. The license doesn't prevent anyone from getting a bad hair cut.

                    Likewise with certification. The test provides evidence that the candidate meets certain minimum standards of skills and knowledge. It doesn't prevent a farrier from doing a bad job.
                    My point is, letters and certifications, esp those that are for jobs like farriers, hairdressers, etc, don't mean much to the general public. The people that understand those letters are fellows in the trade. So talking about them to a horse owner doesn't do a whole lot. Got to show your stuff.

                    A license or letters or anything else doesn't prevent a bad job, never said it did. That's why people ask for referals and go once and see if they like the person and their work. Most people don't call a hairdresser and ask if they have a license (since they neeed one to be working in a shop anyway) any more than they call a farrier and ask what letters they have after their name.

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by Charlie Piccione View Post
                      T
                      I am under the impression that most horse man/woman would know a good foot when they see it.
                      I agree, Charlie. Problem is, nowadays the number of horse owners far outnumbers the number of horsemen/women.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by Tom Bloomer View Post
                        I just signed up my horse's feet for a Geico commercial.
                        Or maybe a dairy farm commercial in California...
                        "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          There are certain elements and minimum standards that are uniformly accepted by the farrier profession as "the basics."

                          BLACK AND WHITE

                          When I evaluate trimming and shoeing, whether it is my work or another farrier's work it is these basic universally accepted standard elements that I look at first. And if I find any of them wanting, there is no reason for me to look beyond those elements. I reject the job out of hand because it fails to meet the objective, codified, universally accepted minimum standard.

                          GREY or GRAY
                          Assuming the basic elements are covered, I then look at more complex variables that are in many cases the manifestation of a particular protocol or theory that is accepted by one group of farriers and rejected by another. It is these more complex variables that I evaluate based on whether or not it appears to work for the individual horse. As such, my assessment will be subjective and a matter of opinion.


                          Horse owners have standards too, and usually they work like this;

                          THE REFERRAL

                          I'm going to call this the horse owner's basic minimum universally accepted standard. It is strictly PASS/FAIL based on the horse owner's belief in the qualifications of the person making the referral. In order for a farrier to pass this phase of a horse owner's certification exam, they have to return a telephone call and set an appointment date.

                          I put that in bold because it seems to be something upon which horse owners place a lot of importance. I also think it is important. However, I tend to look at it differently than horse owners. Whenever I hear a horse owner complain about a farrier not returning their calls or keeping appointments, the first thing that comes into my mind is - the farrier doesn't want or need your business. MOVE ON.

                          THE LIKE BUTTON

                          This is the horse owner's GREY or GRAY area. With doctors it is referred to as "bedside manner." It is very important to some and not very important to others.

                          I know from my own experience that an incompetent hoof butcher can have a successful career and make a very good living for decades while leaving a trail of crippled horses in their wake as long as they are humble and charming and politically correct.

                          Some people seem to have this gift that no matter how badly they perform, some people will forgive them and let their horses suffer to the point where they actually feel more guilty for firing the farrier than they do for repeatedly letting him or her cripple their horse.

                          What's worse is that frequently I have seen many horse owners make a glowing referral (see THE REFERRAL above) while being fully aware that their own horses are suffering from the results. I call this sharing the pain and sympathy.

                          LOOKS GOOD TO ME

                          This should be important to horse owners. But often it is overlooked. I say this because there is often a lot of evidence to support the conclusion that the owner barely gives their horse's feet a once over eyeball, before, during and after a farrier works on their horse.

                          This is a point where pal-o-mino and I substantially agree. LOOK DAMMIT!

                          What do you see? Is there some detail that you question? Shouldn't you ask you farrier (before going to the Internet for answers) about something you see that doesn't look right?

                          When you do ask questions, is your BS detector fully engaged, or are you overwhelmed and blinded by the charming bedside manner? A competent professional will encourage questions and willingly engage in dialogue with a horse owner. In fact they should be LEADING you to do this, pointing out details to you rather than waiting for you to notice and ask.

                          A competent farrier will follow up with you by asking questions at the beginning of each appointment regarding how the horse did since the previous appointment. If you have to tell them and feel like doing so is an imposition, then they are using intimidation to keep you from questioning their results. Without exception, if your farrier doesn't ask you how your horse is doing at each appointment the only logical conclusion you can make is they don't care and they don't want to know.

                          When you look, WHAT are you looking at and WHY are you looking at it? Do you have a BLACK AND WHITE?

                          . . and finally, if you have a BLACK AND WHITE, is it the same as the one indicated above? If not, then what is your basic minimum standard of comparison. And if you can't answer that question succinctly, then maybe you ought to go review the farrier certification exam material and place some personal importance on certification. It is a great place to start.

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Actually, I saw a farrier trimming a particular horse's feet, and liked his work. Then I saw him again doing the same horse. I asked the owner about him and she got an appointment with the farrier for me. I have been using him for a while now and he is the BEST!

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              I can safely say I've never been hired because someone saw me when I was bent over working.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by Tom Bloomer View Post
                                I can safely say I've never been hired because someone saw me when I was bent over working.
                                Its not a pretty sight...

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #36
                                  So, thank you all for the info. I think my head is exploding :-)

                                  What I did not post was the impetus for asking for help and the situation that came up with my farrier. I have to admit that the last time I had horses I had a great farrier. I was also a teenager with an amazing barn owner and lots of choices. We never got into trouble. My horse was always sound.

                                  Two months ago I purchased my mare. She came barefoot. Had a clean, clean, clean prepurchase. We have very abrasive footing in our arena. Sandy with rubber pieces. I ride mostly on the flat and trail. Our trails have lots of limestone and sandstone - so slippery and abrasive. She had never really had shoes. Was on light work, home farm, great footing in their areas and no trails before she came to me.

                                  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. (Stupid, stupid move on my part for not being there. It was a path of least resistance thing. Dumb move I know. Don't flame me... I've corrected this approach.)

                                  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. I flipped out because admittedly I am so nervous about her feet because this is the area where I know the least and already had that inkling I screwed up for not being involved and in attendance.

                                  I also know bad work means pain for my horse. I was PISSED that the guy did not even bother to call or discuss her care. I also flipped out because to me, pads = correction and an issue. 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? See, I kind of like to know what the rules and instructions are because otherwise, the horse and I get into trouble and I hate that.

                                  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. He he saw some bruising at the apex of her frog and her heel was not growing right. He swears this could be temporary, but we will need to see how this grows out.

                                  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. He told me that he is surprised that I even noticed the pad or the line on the invoice because "most women just have a trainer, don't care, don't want to know and think it just magically happens." I stated that I am not most women, I don't miss anything and if he wants to work with me (or I with him) that he has to talk to me and we are going to work on things together. Yes, I was referred by a "trainer," but I own the horse, I pay the bills and ultimately it is my decision on her care. So, I can be a phenomenal client and get out of his way, but I need to know what his treatment plan is and we are in this together. If there is a problem and I need to talk to the vet and I don't know what the heck is going on... then I am the worst kind of horse owner and that is just not who I am. He at least told me it was a refreshing conversation and he wants me at the next shoeing (I insisted) so we can work on this together and he can start to educate me on what he is seeing with her walking.

                                  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...).

                                  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. 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.

                                  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!!

                                  So, I have immediately shut down the 3rd party info and have made it VERY clear (but in a nice way) that I am an active, interested and inquisitive owner.

                                  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. The barn manager made me feel better and I talked to a vet who boards at the barn and she has something very similar on her horse who has the same problem.

                                  I read everything and try to gain as much info as possible. Not to contradict, but so that I can at least grasp concepts. I just feel like I need to go to farrier school to keep up and understand the practices. I hate feeling like I know nothing (which is pretty much the case), but having that gut instinct that things are just not right....

                                  There is really no question in all that... just a vent, an update and a thank you.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Tom, Rick, and Charlie - really refreshing to read your points of view. The "poor communicators" I dealt with made me feel like I was asking for way too much by wanting to be kept in the loop while standing there watching them work. Very nice to see your explanations from the farrier's side and to see the reinforcement that we should all be on the same page and that feedback from the person who sees the horse every day *can* be a valuable tool.

                                    OP - I didn't realize you weren't there for the appointment when I posted, and I have to change my answer with that in mind. If you want to be involved in decisions I think you have to be there, period. Path of least resistance or not, there's not a chance that I would be absent from the first and second shoeing appointment and then upset that decisions were made without me. You set the farrier up to fail by giving him one path and then being upset that he went down it. I can't tell you whether he was right or wrong in regards to the actual decisions made, but I would head into my next appointment as though it was the first appointment.

                                    And I guess my advice would be to find someone you trust...a great trainer, a great vet, someone you really feel understands balance and feet. I would ask that person what they think of your mare's feet. Then you get your unbiased view and a good basis to talk with the farrier armed with more knowledge.
                                    __________________________________
                                    Flying F Sport Horses
                                    Horses in the NW

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #38
                                      PNWjumper... I agree TOTALLY with all your statements about my attendance and that WILL NOT happen again. Yes, I sure did set the guy up to fail. I apologized profusely to him for that very thing.

                                      Funny you say treat the next appointment like the first - that was actually my suggestion and he readily agreed.

                                      Luckily I can admit my part in failures and am currently reassessing everything attached to my current horse support team.

                                      I'm so mad at myself for getting wrapped up in the trainer thing and not doing what worked for me last time. Seriously, in all this, the person I am the most angry with is me.

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        I don't believe my farrier is certified...I'm not 100% but I'm fairly certain he's not. He's one of the top farriers in the area...so maybe he's just an aberration...who knows.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by Tom Bloomer View Post
                                          I can safely say I've never been hired because someone saw me when I was bent over working.

                                          Sorry, that was poorly worded. I actually was so impressed with the feet both times that I watched him that I could not remember what the farrier looked like when he came to do my horse Luckily he came in carrying his tools, so it was easy. After each trim, I am doing a happy dance for days every time I pick out his feet.

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