Have you ever looked at a terrible shoeing and thought to yourself, “That horse must be hard to shoe?” Usually, the first reaction seems to question what the farrier did wrong or what he could have done better. You rarely hear anything about how bad the situation may have been, or that maybe the horse was really difficult and dangerous to shoe. Perhaps the conditions could have been windy, raining and the farrier was standing in mud or snow. Maybe it was the farrier’s last horse of the day and he was worn out, or maybe a parade went by. Whatever the case may be, no one cares why the horse was shod wrong.
I believe that setting yourself up for success before you start anything in life is very important. Take shoeing horses, for example. I believe if you want to protect your reputation, a farrier should never put himself or herself in any of the situations listed above. The chances of success in those situations are very low, and I believe you always need to do a high-quality job, no matter what. That’s one of the reasons why I only shoe on concrete or rubber mats- it’s simply easier to do a good job.
So how can we set ourselves up for success?
On the part of the horse owner, sometimes it’s a reality that a horse will be challenging to shoe. I think every horse owner has probably owned a horse that’s difficult to work on. In these cases, you can either work with them or sedate them. Alternately, one controllable factor is the shoeing environment. If your shoeing area has grass that’s knee-high, soft ground, or obstacles and distractions, you’re putting your farrier in a no win situation.
For farriers, I realize that when you’re first getting started, you’re going to end up in some undesirable situations. But with some thought and ingenuity, you can cost-effectively turn some of the worst situations into good situations.
One easy way we ensure a good situation is through the use of rubber mats. A few rubber mats can make any shoeing area a lot better and easier on everyone. Pretty affordable and they could also double as a wash area, too!
Don’t forget about the twine! Don’t have a good place to tie your horse up? You can cross tie your horse to about anything if it has twine on the ends, if there is an issue the twine will break. Cross ties are my personal favorite, and you can easily install them between stalls, rafters, trees, etc.
Having a good shoeing area and horses that are easy to work with will undoubtedly get you a happier farrier. Most importantly, it will also set him up for success to give you and your horses the best job possible!
God Bless America