Points to aid better service from Farrier's

especially for horse owners to ask advice, from farriers or from other owners, all welcome, also please post details of lost or stolen horses here
john ford
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Points to aid better service from Farrier's

Postby john ford » Wed Nov 23, 2011 7:09 pm

The Farriery Industry has not done any justice throughout its existence in promoting ways in which good farriery is achieved on a day-to-day basis. It also has to be said that farriers themselves, are their own worst enemy, for their complete lack of communication with the horse owner, which leaves everyone oblivious to the working conditions that are required for farriers to do their best work. . It is well known that generally we farriers are a strange individual breed among the human race, with a reluctance to express their true feelings face to face with the horse owner.

It is considered normal by most horse owners that the farrier will shoe their horse/pony wherever it happens to be. In a muddy field, a wet dirty yard, on the side of a road or track etc. or a horse/pony with muddy soaking wet legs and feet to work on. Many farriers will do the work in these conditions without a murmur to the client, yet many will make sure that unless it is a warm sunny day next time, they wont turn up for the next appointment. So what has the horse owner got to do, to insure of getting their farrier to give a reliable service whilst at the same time do a first class job of shoeing the horse/pony.

First of all the animal must be clean and bone dry from the knee downwards with all four hooves cleaned out with a hoof pick. This insures that the farrier’s legs and hands stay dry and, for health & safety the leg will not slip out of the farriers hold. Picking the feet out not only is good practice each time one attends to the horse/pony. It also prevents more debris being scattered around the shoeing area.

Now for the most important item that all farriers desperately seek every day of their working lives, yet very seldom see: a Covered Shoeing Area
Whilst the equine industry spend millions to install all weather working arenas, and shelters for horse boxes and forage, not one penny or thought is ever spent on providing a suitable place for the farrier to shoe in. With the English weather being so unpredictable, cover from the elements is essential, as the horse owner can return home to wash and change, whilst the farrier continues on his rounds in wet clothes, and in many cases wet tools, which will deteriorate if not cleaned and dried quickly.
The area should also be a hard level clean surface with a minimum area of about 4 meters by 3 meters. This is to allow a farrier to work all around the horse/pony without having to reposition the animal each time a different foot is worked upon. If an area for shoeing is too small, such as many stables, the farrier is restricted when shoeing the hind feet. This is first of all a safety hazard, and secondly causes many if not most farriers back problems.
Good lighting is also very important in the shoeing area, yet most horse owners don’t realise the type of lighting a farrier requires to shoe a horse in daylight, let alone when it gets dark at night. One has to appreciate that the farrier is working partly under the horse, with most of its body shielding 75% of light from above. The worst lighting is a 100 watt bulb hanging from the centre of the roof. Long high powered strip lights are good, with two being better than one.

When faced with no alternative but a stable to shoe in, make sure that all the bedding is heaped up along the back wall, furthest from the door. As the farrier will be working most of the time with his back to that wall, and it makes sure that if a nail or tool is dropped, it can easily be found. Also make sure that a tie ring is placed in the centre of the back wall to tie-up the horse/pony. Don’t tie-up the horse/pony on the inside of the stable front or side wall, this is because when the foot is lifted, the farrier will need all the light entering through the doorway of the stable, to see what he/she is doing. Again unfortunately this is not ideal for the farrier, because a horse tied up with his back to the only source of light being the door, will always turn his whole body around to face the light coming from the door. This makes it difficult for the farrier, because each time he/she comes back to the foot that is being worked on, the horse has to be re-positioned.
The best way to avoid this problem is to have a skylight placed in the roof of the stable. One single plastic clear sheet fitted down the centre of the stable roof of the stable you have selected for shoeing in, would be sufficient to give enough light in the daytime for the farrier, and enough light to prevent the horse/pony looking around for light.

Many riding schools and DIY livery yards will display NO SMOKING signs all around their premises yet expect the farrier to shoe the horse/pony in a stable filled with straw or shavings, how crazy is this? Apart from the risk of fire there is the sure risk of nails and nail cuttings ending up on the stable floor to be picked up by the horse’s foot at a later date. Many may say that the farrier should clean up after he/she has finished, but unfortunately there are two reasons why they can’t or wont. The first is that most horse owners would not wish to pay the extra charge that would most certainly be added to their bill for the extra time taken. And secondly, farriers would leave themselves open to litigation by accepting responsibility for cleaning the shoeing area whether it was their mess or not.

The last thing that horse owners can do, to achieve a good standard of shoeing every time, is to always be there whilst their horse/pony is being shod. No farrier should be responsible for catching your horse/pony and returning it back to its stable or field. This can leave the farrier open to litigation if or when anything goes wrong. Also with the terrible crime rate now affecting horse establishments throughout this country, farriers will not now leave themselves open to suspicion.

All the above may at first sound very daunting to the horse owner, yet when you break it down it is simple with a little careful planning. The farrier will visit your establishment more times than any other supplier or tradesman, and the farrier’s skills can be the difference between a sound horse and large veterinary bills. By insuring that the farrier has the perfect conditions to work, you can be certain of getting the best work done on your horse/pony, and a far better service from your farrier.

By: John Ford RSS

Hillcrest Forge, Pucklechurch, Bristol.

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Re: Points to aid better service from Farrier's

Postby admin » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:33 pm

What's this, Fordy talking sense! Good effort.

john ford
Posts: 1052
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2002 7:20 pm
Location: Pucklechurch, Bristol.

Re: Points to aid better service from Farrier's

Postby john ford » Sat Nov 26, 2011 6:00 pm

See I am not all the thing's you crack me up to be Martin. Thank you for your comment though, I just hope the people who this was written for, read it and take the advise.

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Re: Points to aid better service from Farrier's

Postby jaimep » Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:30 pm

Sounds like you need a waterproof jacket and a head torch John!

Seriously though, fair points all.

I guess we are all different, personally I am always surprised how few times I find myself outside in the rain (and then I just put my waxed cotton jacket on, it doesn't bother me) and I don't mind picking feet out so much (nice if they are clean though) and I don't work in a constricted area such as a stable (I agree, not enough room). The one thing I insist on is a hard surface (apart from anything else to trot the horse up on) but if there is no yard, there is usually a road nearby. and I charge an appropriate amount for my time...

Like you, what I don't understand is why farriers don't seem to communicate to their clients what they require. If they don't, how can they expect the client (who has most probably never shod a horse) to know?

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Re: Points to aid better service from Farrier's

Postby Cedric » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:28 pm

There used to be an excellent leaflet available from the FRC, to be handed out to horse owners detailing the optimum conditions required for their farrier to do a good job. They may still be available.

john ford
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Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2002 7:20 pm
Location: Pucklechurch, Bristol.

Re: Points to aid better service from Farrier's

Postby john ford » Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:48 pm

You are correct, but the people who govern our profession the FRC would rather save their money which we pay them, than advertise the contents of the booklet in Horse&Hound or other equine magazines ?

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Re: Points to aid better service from Farrier's

Postby georgesowner » Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:59 pm

I would love to be able to provide all of those requirements, but as a person who rents a tiny 2 stable yard... all I can say is, I wish. As a customer I would like better communication when a farrier is running late, not be left waiting for hours without a txt or phone call, or even answering the phone when I call to find out how late you're gonna be!

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