Have you ever looked at a horse’s feet and thought, “Wow that’s a bad job, I bet that horse is terrible to shoe”?
No, chances are you haven’t. We all can be quick to judge in situations like that. For that reason and a couple others, we have a zero tolerance for working on difficult horses. Safety is our number one concern, but even when it comes to working on a horse that simply won’t stand still, it’s very hard to do a good job!
I grew up instilled with the mentality that you were less of a horseman if you needed to use drugs or declined working on difficult/dangerous horses. I still believe that to be true, but when it comes to working for the public, it’s not the farrier’s responsibility to train your horse. Horse training is something that I believe cannot ever be rushed; you are on the horse’s clock, not yours or the world’s.
For that reason, the horse owner needs to work on this in between farrier visits. Even if the farrier is willing to train your horse, you don’t want them rushing because they have a full day of work scheduled.
Most farriers aren’t willing to work on dangerous horses either, and rightfully so. It doesn’t make any sense to risk being hurt over one individual horse, no matter what it pays! Say the farrier gets kicked and can’t work for 6-10 weeks, they will not only miss out on 30-50 days of paid work, but they will most likely lose most of their business. If they can’t get to their other clients’ horses, their horses can’t wait so they will get another farrier to do their horses immediately!
If you have owned horses for very long, you are going to own a colt or horse that’s difficult to handle their feet at some point. If you have a tough one, don’t worry- I believe they can all be trained to be safely worked on.
Sedation can be everyone’s friend, no matter if the horse owner has done their homework by working on the horse prior to the appointment or not. It takes the edge off and makes it a good experience for the horse. The last thing you want is for the horse to think the guy/gal that shows up with the apron on is always upset and hates them!
Likewise, if you constantly drug your horse and never work with them, they won’t ever get better to work with. It takes both.
I’ve known this for quite a while, but apparently I need constantly reminded. A while back, I shod a horse at a vet clinic that would pull back- not a little, like fly back! Well, it wasn’t really dangerous, so I just got him done without sedation, thinking I saved the owner some money. The next day their normal farrier back at home calls me. He politely asks why I left one foot lower laterally. I said, “No Sir, there wasn’t any reason to on that horse; I intended leave him level.” Well, he wasn’t and sent me a picture to prove it. Then he said, did they tell you he kicks? I said, “No they sure didn’t!”
From that day on, I decided that if the horse doesn’t allow me to do a good job, I absolutely can’t work on it. Not because I can’t successfully nail shoes on, but because I don’t want to hurt our reputation by being tied to sub-par work.
If you need to sedate your horse, most vets are happy to help or they can sell you Dormosedan Gel over the counter.
God Bless America!
Lee Olsen CJF