Rather a long digression about horse feet

The whole feet thing is one of those frustrating things I really don’t want to learn any more about.

I had to learn so much when Dear One had laminitis (complicated by Cushings Disease) and every time I have to even think about it, it’s like taking a railroad spike and shoving it into my brain. I did everything right and she still died. I feel I have served my prison sentence and would rather NOT learn how to rasp or trim hooves, thanks very much.

Thankfully, hubby has valiantly (especially after being kicked in the face by ZZ) stepped up (haha) to learn about it. Our natural trimmer has been giving him some help when she comes out, and I have passed on my Pete Ramey book, Making Natural Hoofcare Work for You, which seems to solidify some of her advice to him. 

All he is doing at this point is rasping in-between appoinments but our eventual goal, a year or two down the road, is for him to take it over full time. Partly this is because of economics. With three horses, my current trim bill is $120. She is well worth it but I know, with the cost of gas and inflation, this will go up over the years and I do plan on owning more horses.

We also plan on living out, probably an hour from the city within three years, and getting a trimmer on schedule to a rural locaiton may be more difficult.

I have to admit, (no slur to you CB but because of former farriers) I never NEVER want to be held hostage by a farrier again.

*~*~*~*

The policy at most of the boarding barns I have been at is if you use their farrier then the BO holds the horses, makes the appt. and hands over your check addressed to the farrier.

If you use your own farrier, then you have to come out and hold your own horse – or pay a fee to the BO to do so. Obviously, it can become a problem if you work during the day and that is the time your farrier wants to come out, however, as I’m a SAHM then it’s no problem for me.

In my state, as well others, a recent law by the large animal vet associations has made it against the law for your farrier or trimmer to offer “medical advice.” This could be as simple as your farrier saying: “I think your horse has a soundness issue with his stifle.” 

Personally, farriers irritate me when they offer medical advice – so I don’t bother to listen to much of what they have to say, especially if you consider the little schooling they need to hang a shingle on their trailer – and the poor jobs the majority of them do. Most of the advice I’ve received from them was ineffectual and wrong (i.e. oil on the horses’ hooves would un-contract heels – WRONG! Horse shoes helps with contracted heels WRONG!).

Most farriers rely upon the ignorance of the horse owner in order to stay in business. They don’t want to educate you because they would be educating themselves out of your business! Once you saw what a crappy job they were really doing, and how what they are doing is making your horse unsound, you would most properly drop them!

Then there are the farriers who can BS such a good line you find yourself nodding along with their baloney. It all SOUNDS GOOD… doesn’t it? But if your BS-meter seems to keep dinging every time they show up, trust your instinct.

Special Note to You: When you are called “Little Lady” by vet – or farrier – it’s time to change Vet or Farrier.

The biggest problem I have had with farriers is how they disappear. You will be going along swimmingly with someone and then suddenly *poof* they don’t show, don’t return calls, and have decided to drop out of the business because, let’s face it, it IS back breaking and dangerous.

The other issue is that recommendations can’t really be trusted unless they come from your vet. Recommendations from other horse people are generally given just because the farrier shows up and does the job… not because the owner really knows what they are doing.

Normally, who I use as a farrier/trimmer is no big deal. I have been on self-care for years so really no one paid me much mind. However, at my current barn there has been some trouble brewing about it. It’s all a pack of nonsense, blended with equal parts of ignorance and stupidity, but I really can’t go into it in the open journal. Writing what I have done here is enough to get me in deep water already…

This entry was posted in hooves, Horse care, My Horses, Snake Oil, supplements and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rather a long digression about horse feet

  1. It may not be much consolation to know that, here in Britain where there is a legally mandated four year “training” for farriers, standards generally vary from poor to barely tolerable. Many farriers seem to rush their work, and a high proportion of horses have long toes and collapsed heels. There is no requirement to maintain training, so the newly qualified farriers all too often have learnt from those whose techniques are out of date, and of course they learnt from old guys whose techniques dated from goodness knows when. The legal monopoly has made the profession so complacent and arrogant, and a shortage of farriers has raised prices to the point where a farrier is paid more per hour than an architect or a design engineer. And still they rely on owners being ignorant and gullible.

    Trimming over here is a separate (and unregulated) career path. The Strasser trimmers have given barefoot a bad name, however there are some good trimmers too. I use a very experienced trimmer who obtains great results, however he has become quite unreliable about turning up.

    I turned away from shoeing because I couldn’t find a good enough farrier, and now I am thinking of trimming my horse because the trimmer can’t be relied upon to turn up.

    We have a situation here where I need a veterinary recommendation before legally I can call in a chiropractor. The farrier can give advice related to lameness, but not administer drugs. The vet cannot touch the shoes. After some of the stuff that I have heard from farriers, I wouldn’t trust what they say.
    – A barefoot horse needs shoes in winter as otherwise his feet will get cold from the snow!
    – The hind feet have pointed toes because, when the horse gallops, they land in the heel spaces of the front feet!
    – Long toes give extra leverage for more speed.

    I did hear that, round here somewhere, the humane society was called to look at a horse because it didn’t have shoes. (They turned up, saw that the horse was fine, and went away muttering about time wasters.)

    Meanwhile the BO blames every ailment of my horse on his being barefoot. When he was transitioning, the BO went around telling everyone that “I had crippled the horse”. Now the fact that he needed chiropractic manipulation is because of barefoot. The ignorance is so annoying, and do these people ever listen? I have a lot of sympathy for your situation – good luck, and I hope that things get better.

  2. Hey Doru – Yes, I had been reading through your blog first due to your comments on hoof trimming and shoes. I am very glad it is not regulated here.

    We are having issues now that the vet assoc. wants to regulate chiropractors and my state now has a law against equine dentists – only vets are allowed to do it. The thing is there are crossovers from other professions – like human chiropractors doing equine; and human dentists doing equine, so there are other options (now illegal) then vets. Even massage therapists can get in trouble now!

    Generally, the vets have a farrier they work with that comes in on the day they need shoes pulled or “adjustments” done but I have never needed that. Though when Dear One was ill, the trimmer and my vet came out together to consulate and discuss what needed to be done to make her comfortable.

    I am very pleased that hubby is willing to figure this out. My trimmer follows by Pete Ramey (not Strasser) and she is only one of three that I know if in this area (one other is completely booked, and the other group is new husband and wife team).

    The long toe thing was very popular here by new and idiotic horse owners. Mostly farriers just do an uneven trim, slap shoes on, and then don’t show up on schedule or want to be the Boss of your Life.

    The person I have now is very good – I just want to increase our knowledge base. Knowledge is power! BTW here they have barefoot trim clinics where you work on cadaver hooves. I don’t know if something is available like that in Britain.

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