Farrier Woes

Farriers, man. Finding a good one is harder than finding a vet, trainer, husband, unicorn, or Holy Grail. Sometimes it seems as if the combination of good communicator, reliable, skilled, and open-minded are things that can’t coexist in one person.

I feel like Henry is not all THAT complicated to shoe. He can definitely grow a lot of toe, and he’s crooked, and sometimes he likes to trot right out of his shoes, but… he’s very easy to work on and I stick to a religious 5-week schedule. Presto is even simpler: a barefoot trim on the same schedule. I know that being a farrier is a hard job, but really important. I always pay. I don’t hover. I’m flexible. I don’t expect miracles. Just a good job. I feel like that’s pretty reasonable?

When I moved to my current barn almost 2 years ago, I was at a farrier crossroads anyway. The one I’d been using was just getting way too busy to come out for my (at that time) one horse anymore. I hauled Henry off property to him a couple times before it became clear that I was going to have to try something else.

Too tired to hold his head up, it’s tough being Henry

So I switched to the barn farrier, which was massively more convenient. He was out every couple weeks anyway, and in the area a lot, so it was always easy to just write Henry’s name on the board, leave a check, and voila, the horse would get done. I liked that farrier fine, he seemed willing enough to listen to my input when I had small issues. For the most part it was fine.

But over time, Henry’s toes just got longer… and longer… and longer. His heels got more and more underslung. I felt like the length of his hind toes was possibly contributing to Henry’s SI soreness last year, to which my vet agreed, and we discussed some changes with the farrier. It got a little better, then worse again, and we had another talk, after which it got a little better, and then worse again. I like the guy as a person and wanted to give him a chance to fix things, so after Chatt we had one more big talk, and Henry got done again. The next week he did Presto.

Presto’s thoughts on New Farrier: Dis guy boring too.

Aaaaaand they both looked fairly terrible fairly immediately. Henry’s right front especially (the more crooked one that tends to flare to the inside) was resembling a ski slope, and within 3 weeks his feet were growing over the sides of the shoes and both fronts were so loose they were rattling. Even more frustratingly, Presto suddenly looked like he had 4 totally different feet. Presto’s feet have always been nothing less than exemplary. Seeing him so unbalanced was the straw that broke this camel’s back. That farrier relationship just wasn’t working.

Farrier breakups are the worst. Even when it’s not personal, it’s personal.

But, I had the name of someone else that some of my friends have switched to and been very pleased with. I called him up, explained my situation, and he stuck my horses on his schedule for a few days later – a Saturday morning, no less. If you’re trying to woo me, that’s how.

He spent quite a while on Henry, checking and rechecking the balance from every angle, taking off as much foot as he could, a little at a time. Way more foot than there should have been available to take, considering Henry was done 4 weeks ago. Way way way more. Although we weren’t able to get everything perfect on the first go-round (I know it’ll take a while to fix this), Henry already looks and FEELS so much better. The forging and interfering stopped immediately, and he feels freer through the front end.

All this was from JUST the fronts

After Henry was finished he moved on to Presto, who was so good he earned a few gold stars from both of us. I just stuck him in the crossties, went and sat down a little ways down the aisle, and the farrier went to work. The worst thing Presto did the whole time was take his foot off the hoof stand a couple times. The farrier was quite impressed and asked me if I was sure he was just a yearling.

Guys, he’s in a growth spurt again, wtf.

We’re on the schedule again for 5 weeks, which puts us a week out from FEH Champs, which is exactly the timing I wanted. Fingers crossed that this new guy is Mr. Right Farrier and works out long term. I haaaaaaate farrier woes and farrier breakups and farrier dating.

Also this guy ended up being $50 cheaper for both horses than the old one. I dunno what kind of black magic that is, but I’ll take it.

46 thoughts on “Farrier Woes

  1. I hate trying to find a good farrier! I have been dealing with this exact same problem recently. I’ve been using the barn farrier for the past couple of years, mostly because he comes out every week and I really like the flexibility of getting my horse done when he needs it, and now always having to schedule in advance. I’ve never been 100% happy with his work, and we had a couple issues a few months ago, but he ‘s relatively decent and does listen to my concerns… if I’m out there to remind him every time. But now that my gelding is moving barns, I have struggled to find a new farrier that comes recommended and has time to add my two horses. I’ve texted, called, asked friends to put in a good word for me, nothing. Right now it looks like we’ll be using the same farrier still since he’s been the only one that is willing to travel to me (probably because he knows I’ll pay my bill on time lol), but I will be keeping a very close eye on his work and keeping my ear to the ground for any openings elsewhere.

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  2. Farriers are the bane of my horse world. I’ve been through so many which makes me seem insane but they all start off so great. Take their time. Do a wonderful job. And then over time they just stop caring. Each visit they do less and less. I fired my last one a few weeks ago when it got so bad that he needed reminded to rasp Gems hooves as he said he was done and had yet to do that. My new one seems good. Except he only works Tues-Thursday and I work. I can’t find anyone who works evenings or weekends.

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  3. Finding a good farrier is definitely the WORST. I’ve finally found one that I love and my horses love. He unfortunately tends to be on the slightly less than reliable side about showing up on time, but he does great work so I live with it.

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  4. I had used my old farrier for like 10yrs before he moved away. I loved him. Finding a new one sucked. First new farrier was too inexperienced and wasn’t really sure he wanted to be a farrier. Second new farrier was ok, but our political views were a complete 180 and he left some not so polite comments on some of my social media posts. Not a great way to make a good impression on a new client. Luckily new farrier #3 is working out well.

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    1. This is why I don’t really want to be friends with any of my vets or farriers on facebook lol. I know that I have wildly differing political views from most farriers! One of them wanted to talk about politics with me once back in 2016 and I was like noooooope can’t, please stop, please stop, please stop.

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  5. It isn’t just me?! Holy crap, finding a farrier is horrible in my area. Correction: finding a GOOD farrier who will actually respond to my attempts to contact them is horrible. I don’t mind paying more for a good farrier to come out; I’ve a miniature horse that needs good care because of past foundering. I also understand it’s tough to come out to the farm for just two horses. But at least have the decency to call or text me back and let me know you aren’t going to show up or aren’t interested. I had the same farrier for a few years, and really liked him. Then all of a sudden he stopped answering my phone calls. When he finally did answer, he didn’t show up to the appointment. I’m trying to give him easy money because my horses really stand nicely and are barefoot, but he was a no call no show. Stood up by a farrier, good grief.

    That being said, I finally found a good, reliable farrier. The downside? He’s older and has mentioned retiring D:

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  6. Totally agree. And it baffles me how hard it is to find a good one in this state with 5 gajillion horses. Coco has a wonky front foot. It’s been wonky since she was 6 months old. I used the farrier recommended by a local barn who was crazy expensive, super flaky and ended up doing more harm than good for her when she was a baby. I’ve been using my current farrier for about 6 years now and he’s great. Not dramatic. Pretty dependable. Good at what he does. And, funny story, turns out his daughter is married to my cousin’s wife’s brother (read that slowly, twice, it’s confusing). The extra layer of funny to that connection is that I live in Texas (duh), but my cousin and his wife live in and are from North Dakota. Small world!

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    1. Ones that are a little wonky or have “special needs” feet just complicate things even more. Like Henry is a little crooked but really I just need him to be balanced. Really well. All the time. But it’s still amazing how hard that is!

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  7. I love my farrier. He’s been around forever and half of the farriers in my area have worked/trained with him at some point. I have NO idea what I will do when he retires, but he’d better recommend someone to me! My 3 are all barefoot now so he doesn’t make much money on me and he drives a fair distance to see me (~50-60 min) but he’s taken my TB from a horse who was described as dangerous to shoe and who had to be drugged (a requirement by his old farrier) with awful feet to barefoot. He found right away that as long as he had a friend with him and we would pause and talk whenever he got nervous, he’d relax and that’s how we did his feet for the first year in the middle of a paddock. Now he’s barefoot all around and probably one of the easiest horses to do 9 years later. His only issues now come do to pain from arthritis. My other gelding has a wonky hoof thanks to hoof injury before I bought him and while he doesn’t make it look great (too much scar tissue), he keeps him sound. He always gives me the choice of soundness or looks, but I can’t have both. He also has given me incredible horse advice over the years. We should also have great farriers who treat each horse as individuals.

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  8. We have a unicorn of a farrier. He does excellent work, very good attention to detail, and great at explaining any minor changes he’s making or thinks should be made to keep feet and legs in good condition. He doesn’t work weekends or nights but luckily we have a good rotation of people around to help out. He also is very reasonably priced.
    Plus-he’s just a great guy and fun to be around! Feel very lucky to have him around and available to us, and that he cares so much about keeping our horses feeling good.

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  9. Ugh, feeling this lately. Juice is barefoot and there are no less than four farriers that come to my barn regularly, yet I can never get an answer in less than two days when I’m trying to schedule him. He isn’t on a regular schedule because his feet grow at different rates throughout the year so I am always chasing someone down. Don’t they want my money?!

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    1. They want it on their terms, not yours. I know that being a farrier is a hard job, one I would not want, but a lot of them definitely have issues with the “office” side of things… billing, scheduling, returning calls, etc.

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      1. Ok, I have to amend my comment a little, as one of the farriers got back to me today in only three hours FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER (your post reminded me I needed to get someone out). Here’s hoping this happens again sometime in the future.

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  10. I have actually been having farrier issues too. I mean it does seem so difficult to find someone who has all those qualities. I’ve actually just switched farriers 2x because I realized the problems in Amber’s front feet were due to poor shoeing. The next guy didn’t want to listen to me as well until the vet sent him x rays and had a chat with him….So I’m hoping the new guy will be good. It really really sucks having to “break up” with a farrier, but….I’m glad Henry and Presto seem to be doing well with the new guy!

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  11. Having to fire a farrier sucks almost as much as having to find a better one. I’ve been using the same farrier for a little over two years and so far, no major issues. He’s dealt with my horse being an idiot more than once and still treats him well. He was very late for our last appointment, which was pretty annoying, but being that is the only time he has been that late in 2+ years, I won’t write him off for just one time late. I don’t really understand how there are so many mediocre or bad farriers and so few good ones. One of my favorite local farriers is now retired, but I loved him.

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  12. Farriers are for sure a universal dilemma. Especially the not listening, not communicating and then the awkward break up. (Like do you ghost them, or do you call and actually break up? I’ve just ghosted in the past which feels horrible.) I wonder if it’s because it much of what they do isn’t regulated? Like, some great farriers have no proper schooling but studied under amazing people. And some farriers only know western horses and then shoe all horses like that. It’s all very frustrating. I don’t know how to shoe or trim a horse, so I put so much trust in my farrier. Without knowing a whole lot about their experience….

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    1. Yeah it’s a super awkward breakup. Like… hey I still like you as a person and I wish you nothing but the best but you kinda did a shit job on my horse’s feet, haha still friends? I try to at least be professional enough to let them know, instead of ghosting, but you never know what kind of reaction you’ll get. I’ve gotten everything from “you’re dead to me” level silence to a huge blowup that involved the guy cussing at me. Most of them are pretty understanding though, I’m sure this happens to them a lot.

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  13. I fired my Indiana farrier w/o pay after she lamed my horse to the point I was worried about laminitis. (Like. Wtf. He was barefoot. It’s not that hard.) I’ve been doing my own trims since then. I’m about to fire myself for flakiness though! 🤦 Both boys are getting longer in the toe than I’d like. Can I petition for more hours in the day?

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  14. I am so thankful for my farrier. I kept him even when moving barns meant it would’ve just been easier to switch to the barn farrier. Why is he great? WELL he was the onsite farrier at the horse trial this weekend, unbeknownst to me. I ran into him before Dressage and mentioned that May’s one shoe was getting a bit loose before heading into the ring. Once my division was done, he came and found me. He said he was going to be away for a week, and he wanted to make sure we were all set before he left.

    He checked May’s feet, and then hurried off to bring his truck and trailer over TO ME to tighten some nails. We then spent about 20 minutes discussing a plan going forward (i.e. different type of shoe or going barefoot again). He said he would put her on the schedule for the day after he gets back. Did he charge me? Nope. (though, I often pay him more than he charges). To him, it’s just part of doing business.

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  15. Omg, I thought it was just me! I always make sure to have my horse ready, fans if it’s hot, pay promptly and my horse stands well.
    I too, have been stood up. I was so frustrated I just started crying (my horse had been battling recurrent abscesses).
    Things are better now, knock on wood.

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  16. I’m at this point right now as well. My guy is a fun person to be around, and he’s tried to do what I’ve told him, but it’s gotten to a point that I need to be there when he’s there, not because I just like to be there, but to WATCH him. Which I hate. I already have someone picked out, and he’s already looked at Libby’s feet, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how to tell this farrier. The unfortunate part is he looses me, and my friend who also uses him will probably drop him too.

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  17. A good farrier is so hard to find. And even when you find him, he’s probably not perfect. Mine is pretty fantastic, and fortunately for me, he and my vet work together very well. But he has some downsides. He’s stupid busy, and is in Canada a lot shoeing. So my horses can get overdue sometimes. He always has a whole bunch of guys working under him so I have the option of using one of them if he gets behind, but they’re definitely not as good. They are just fine though if someone loses a shoe! I almost never have to wait more than a day to get one tacked back on. So that’s a bonus. Farrier also can be very conservative in his trimming. I appreciate him not cutting anyone too short, but sometimes he lets the toes get too long. So he’s not perfect. But I think as long as the working relationship stays fluid it’s ok. When Jamp was foundering I called him to see if he could make sure it wasn’t a bad nail or something since the vet hadn’t actually come out yet. And he was at my house in 15 minutes. Gotta appreciate service like that! Anyway, I hope I can keep him around long term.

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  18. There’s nothing worse than a crap farrier except trying to find a better one 🤦🏼‍♀️
    I am so lucky with mine, I have nightmares I’ll piss him off and be forever stuck with someone else 😂

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  19. My first farrier would trim my mare too short every time. She would be sore at least a week. I have been super lucky with farriers since, my guy now does a great job and comes to my house for just my 2 and the donkey. I have been super lucky but I have seen and heard some horror stories. I hope this one works out.

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  20. I’ve had to break up with a few carriers and it’s been worse than breaking up with my hairdresser! Good luck with the new one!

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  21. One bad trim or shoeing can take months to correct. Plus there are farriers that can get along with horses, and those that have no patience for horses. I cannot deal with marginal farriers and ghost them without a second thought. I think they know why, and I doubt they care much. Most of marginal farriers would rather work for the undemanding owner than have to put up with an involved owner.

    My last horse was very behavioral with farriers when I got him, although I learned how to get him to stand for them, with a lot of effort for each visit. Then a farrier came along who did excellent work, understood and cared about the horses. The farrier-hating horse stood for him perfectly, holding up each foot with just a lead rope draped over his back. When I had to move to another part of the state I thought seriously about trailering 250 miles back to Good Farrier to get his feet done every 4-6 weeks. Fortunately I was able to find another good farrier, plus we took the horse to barefoot, so things were less complicated and I could rasp his feet a bit myself from time to time.

    Lucky to have a good farrier now. If he gets another job and doesn’t do my current horse any more, I do not know what I’ll do. I can think of maybe one other farrier I can try. I’ve encountered maybe a dozen farriers in this area, and this is one of the very few good ones.

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  22. i hate the farrier game. i hate switching them. i hate when i like them personally. i hate when they’re bad at it. I hate when they’re difficult to get a hold of. I JUST DONT UNDERSTAND WHY ITS SO DIFFICULT. I just want my horse to not be crippled. surely there should only be one way to do it????

    i cannot – CANNOT believe how much hoof is on the ground after 4 weeks. from just the fronts. that’s insane. you should do before and afters.

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    1. I know, that’s NUTS right? When he was done it looked like he’d just done 3 horses, and that was with him being relatively conservative about what and how much he took off. I wish I’d taken before pics!

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  23. My god, I could have written this word for word yesterday. They always say don’t mix business with pleasure, and I ignored it and jumped straight in having my best friend’s fiancé shoe my horses when my old farrier moved away. 18 months down the line, we have lameness issues each time we’re shod, I have a chat, say I want her done sooner on a real 5 week to the day routine, not ‘anytime in the 5th week’. Then 5 weeks roll around and I get pushed back, a day or so, then I get a text to say he’s been to look and she’s fine, and a week later I have the vet and my physio looking in horror at her overdue feet…

    DONE! Get me a new one.

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  24. This is so true and why I finally just gave up and started doing them myself. Katai’s feet are improving leaps and bounds from where they were when I stated doing them but it’s frustrating that I’m the one fixing my own horses feet.

    That’s awesome that you, hopefully, found someone amazing and cheaper too!!

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  25. I love my farrier! I’ve been so fortunate. I’ve only had 2 bad experiences in 3 years. 1st was not my current farrier, I had just bought my mare and didn’t have a farrier lined up and this guy was at the barn and had time to do a trim. He layed into her pretty hard, and I was uncomfortable but wasn’t sure what “normal” was yet so I just let it happen. 2nd farrier issue was when my farrier was away and he recommended a certain guy to come in while he was away. I contacted the other guy and it was a few days before he would reply back. I’d let him know my availability then he’d do a radio silence for another week. By the time he finally got back to me my regular guy was back in town. I am so thankful I have a good, punctual farrier. And he’s quiet too, no unnecessary conversations.

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