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Tips for Choosing a Farrier

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Choosing a farrier is one of the most important decisions you can make that will impact the well-being and serviceability of your horse. The right farrier will be a trusted and valued partner in the care of your horse. Here are a few tips to help you in your search:

Ask for recommendations

If you are new to an area or you are a new horse owner, you may not know where to start looking for a farrier. Asking trusted equine professionals in your community is always a good place to start. Your veterinarian may have a good working relationship with several farriers. For horses with complex shoeing needs, a strong partnership between the farrier and veterinarian is essential. If you keep your horse at a boarding facility, the trainer or manager will know which farriers frequently care for their clients' horses. The additional benefit of a trainer or veterinarian recommendation is that they will be likely familiar with the farriers in the area with expertise in your breed and discipline. The manager of your local feed or tack store is likely to be well-connected in your equine community and may also have suggestions for farriers.

Look for certifications and evidence of continuing education

While there are many excellent farriers that have learned the trade and have not pursued any type of certification, if you are starting your search from scratch, looking for a farrier with certifications from the American Farrier's Association (AFA) may be helpful. The certification process requires farriers pass rigorous written and practical testing, ensuring that each individual has the ability to provide a high standard of hoof care. Hoof care and shoeing is a constantly evolving field. The best farriers will want to keep learning and honing their craft. Look for a farrier who is an active member of farrier's associations at the national, regional, or local level. Ask if they regularly attend seminars or other continuing education events.

Make sure your farrier knows your breed and discipline

Not all farriers have expertise in shoeing every breed and every discipline. Some farriers may focus their work on English or Western performance horses. Others may offer expertise in draft breeds. Others still may limit their work to complex or therapeutic shoeing. Finding a farrier who is familiar with your horse’s breed and your intended use will help ensure your horse gets the hoof care he needs.

Expect an individualized approach to shoeing and trimming

Find a farrier that takes an individualized approach to shoeing. Two horses of the same age, breed, and discipline are unlikely to have identical hoof care needs. Each horse may have subtle differences in gait, wear patterns, and shoeing needs to optimize soundness. A farrier should carefully examine your horse’s feet prior to trimming or shoeing. Additionally, she should watch your horse move, potentially at a variety of gaits and on different surfaces as part of the development of a shoeing plan. If corrective shoeing is indicated, the plan should be explained to you, and if needed, your veterinarian as well.

Prioritize communication

When searching for a new farrier, it is perfectly reasonable to have conversations with a few farriers to make sure you are aligned in your needs, preferences, service offerings, and communication styles. Setting clear expectations regarding communication, scheduling, and provision of emergency services can be beneficial in establishing a strong working relationship that will last for years to come.

If you follow these tips, you should be well on your way to finding a great farrier for your horse.

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