Choosing a Farrier
Choosing a farrier is an important decision and requires some research as he/she will become part of a team directly involved with your horse’s comfort and health. This team, among others, will consist of your veterinarian, your farrier and of course yourself!
If you are just getting started with horses, you’ll need to learn at least, basic principles of horse health, including hoof care and what proper care looks like. Your farrier may only visit every 6 – 8 weeks for routine maintenance, so you’ll also need to be able to identify potential problems during this time.
In the United States there are no licensing or certification requirements to call yourself a farrier, so again some research on your part is needed. The first step in this research is talking to your community:
- Ask for recommendations from your veterinarian, other horse owners, trainers and equipment suppliers.
Once you have assembled a short list, the second step is to observe and ask questions:
- Ask for references and, if possible, ask to see his work. (This is where your knowledge of proper care is essential).
- Take a look at his equipment, tools and truck. Are they up to date and well maintained?
- Does he participate in ongoing education and stay up to date in his trade?
- Is he registered and certified with any of the main associations such as American Farrier’s Association americanfarriers.org ?
- If you are training in a certain discipline, such as dressage, your farrier should have experience and be very familiar with the rules and needs of your sport.
- Is he reliable and on time?
As for cost, get a feel for a price range that is acceptable in your area. Farrier costs vary significantly depending where you are located. Now remember, the lowest price is not always the best. The qualifications listed above are more important and also realize that substandard work can have large cost implications in veterinary bills, training downtime and most importantly, your horse’s health and comfort.
Be aware that in some areas, the best farriers will have a full schedule and perhaps even a waiting list. In this case, ask that farrier for a recommendation.
Once you’ve found the perfect farrier, the third step is to develop a good, professional relationship:
- Be loyal. Don’t switch between farriers.
- Book appointments in advance.
- Give careful consideration to his advice. If he is as qualified as you’ve discovered, he’ll have worked on and seen far more horses than most people.
To summarize what we’ve covered, here is video by Chris Gregory, Journeyman Farrier via The American Farrier’s Association: