A badly shod horse might as well be no horse at all, as a horse relies heavily upon proper hoof care. Without it, a horse can go quickly go lame and ruin your chances for riding or further training. If you find yourself without a farrier or you are new to horse ownership, it’s vitally important that you take the right steps to getting a farrier that meets your schedule and your horse’s needs. Before you invite just any farrier to come and hack away at your horse’s feet, use this short list of questions to get an idea of the background and experience of a new farrier.

English: Farrier at work - Ogmore
English: Farrier at work – Ogmore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. What Are Your Qualifications?

You should ask a few general questions about your farriers experience over the phone before you even meet. Asking these background questions will save you and the farrier the extra time and expense from coming out to your farm if you don’t think it’s a match. Some basic questions to ask include:

  • How Long Have You Been in the Business?
  • Where Are You Located?
  • Why Did You Decide to Become a Farrier?

These questions will give you a general idea of the nature and experience of the intended farrier. It’s important to ask the location of the farrier’s practice, because he may charge additional fees if your farm is located out of his working range.

2. Do You Have Any References?

While you have the farrier on the phone, ask if he has any past clients he would be willing to offer as references. A simple name and phone number for about three-to-four of his past clients will give you an idea of the farrier’s style, how he handles the horse and whether or not he is punctual.

3. Are You Certified?

The largest association for certified farriers is the American Farrier’s Association. This international company developed a program in 1981 to test the competency and accuracy of potential farriers throughout the nation. Ask your farrier if he is part of this association and who he trained with for his apprenticeship. A good farrier should be able to give a clear and succinct answer about his level of education and certification. Be cautious if the farrier beats around the bush or says he’ll get back to you with the information.

4. What Breeds Do You Handle?

Some farriers only handle Thoroughbreds, while others mainly manage large breeds such as Belgians or Clydesdales. Talk to your farrier to see what horse breeds he typically handles and if he has any experience working with your breed. If you have a gaited horse, it’s important to find out if the farrier has experience with shoeing for Tennessee Walkers, Standardbreds, Saddlebreds or other gaited types.

5. What’s Your Schedule?

You run a busy farm, and if your farrier is any good, he will run a busy practice. A horse that is ridden regularly needs shoeing every six to eight weeks. Scheduling a regular date and time for you and the farrier can be a frustrating situation. Make sure your farrier has the time to take on a new horse and can commit to regular visits.

6. What Are Your Rates?

Nothing like a surprise bill at the end of a service to make an experience quickly turn south! Talk with your farrier beforehand to find out what he charges for every visit. Some farriers offer package deals that involve trimming and shoeing, while others provide each service separately. Get the rates ahead of time so you won’t have to short Bessy on her hay next month.

7. Do You Offer Emergency Services/Specialty Shoeing?

Horse owners typically don’t remember this question until they wake up one day and find that a horse went mysteriously lame. As you are looking for the right farrier, ask what extra or specialty services he offers in case you get in a bind. Sometimes it can be cheaper to get a corrective shoe or hoof poultice through your regular farrier than it can be through a vet or unknown farrier. Again, ask for those rates! You will be better prepared when you have a general idea of how much services cost when an accident happens.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions as you interview new farriers. A good farrier expects it, and a great farrier may even offer the information before you even ask.

NOTE from Joni (blog owner): I also make sure to explain to the farrier that I do NOT allow anyone to hit on my horses, with hands, feet, or tools! And no ear twisting or any other punishment like that. I want a farrier that is calm and knows how to hand a horse without violence  even if the horse is acting up a bit.

Guess Article by David Baker
eFarriers.com – A comprehensive directory of farriers from across the United States and Canada featuring full-page farrier profiles with biographies, photos, training and qualifications.
Twitter: @eFarriers
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Read more: Standing Still: Training Your Horse to Stand Quietly for Your Farrier

Farrier (Photo credit: Nick Kidd)