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.
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.
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.
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.
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.