Posts Tagged ‘farrier’

When I first started riding reining horses I knew one thing about reining and horseshoes: a reining horse needs sliders. I figured if those were slapped on the back feet of any horse, they could slide and be a reining horse.

Um, I was 13, what can I say!

Alongside my lack of knowledge regarding reining was my ignorance about my horse’s hooves. I tried to learn, but it all seemed so complicated. One person would recommend shoes all around, another said that barefoot was the way to go, still another said that barefoot was good but only if they were trimmed a special way.

Luckily the farrier I choose had been shoeing for more than three decades and he’d seen the fads come and go. He knew that to properly take care of your horse’s feet you didn’t need to go ask anyone how to shoe your horse, you needed to look at your horse and he’d tell you.

Some horses need shoes on all the time, some don’t. Some need special shoes, some need special trims, some pull their shoes off regularly, some have feet that grow so quickly you need to reset them frequently.

Once I started working as an assistant trainer, it was often my job to communicate with the farrier. If he couldn’t remember what had been done last time on a particular horse, it was my job to remember. I started writing things down to remember what had to be tweaked and what had already been tweaked – and whether it had worked or not.

What I began to learn was that to know my horse’s hooves, I had to know his legs. To know his legs, I had to know his hips and shoulders, and to know those . . . well, I had to know the whole horse. Some things can’t be ‘tweaked’ with a shoeing job, sometimes there’s a problem in the shoulder that is causing a problem in the feet.

Recently I read an article in The Quarter Horse News about farrier Derrick Cooke and it explained that communication line between horse owner and farrier and how important it is to know about your horse’s body.

Cooke is a professional and, like most in his line of business, he takes his work seriously and strives to do the best job possible. This is a two-way street, one that requires a basic knowledge of anatomy so the client can communicate problem areas and the farrier can provide a solution.

“Anatomy and conformation are two areas often overlooked by many people in the horse business,” Cooke said. “Anatomy is the first step in learning how things interact with each other. The benefit of learning anatomy is that it helps us communicate when problems arise.”

Of course, how that communication is given and received matters greatly. An owner or trainer may be trying to convey one thing, while a farrier hears something completely different. Unless a person has an in-depth knowledge of equine anatomy or is a veterinarian or specialist, he might not understand the reasons why his horse is having trouble with its feet. That’s when a farrier might find himself most vulnerable to miscommunication and, ultimately, to not completing a job that makes the client happy. After all, it is difficult to describe a situation when the person doesn’t understand the basic nature of the problem.

According to Cooke, the best policy is for an owner or trainer to know his horse inside and out, along with having a basic idea of how a horse’s anatomy affects legs and movement. This knowledge and familiarity help bridge the gap between a farrier and his client, and enable the problem or concern area to be properly identified before the shoeing starts. Clear communication goes a long way in eliminating the gray areas.

The article is quite good and explain’s how Cooke shoes a horse according to “conformation, job and environment”. That’s why there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to shoeing or trimming your reining horse.

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