How do you find a farrier? If boarding, the simplest thing to do is use the farrier that the barn uses or at least the majority of boarders. The person will already be familiar with the barn and you could assume they do decent work or they wouldn't be there. Of course, assumptions are never a good idea and we have learned the hard way that this isn't always a good way to go. The first farrier I used was a barn farrier and made Gem lame. We found our fantastic farrier in the arctic north this way and became friends with him. He never made them even tender over the course of three years. We miss him.
When we made the Big Move south we had our arctic farrier trim them right before to bide us some time. I started asking about the barn farrier and was not happy with what I was finding out. One boarder who is smart enough to know better said that she loved him, but oddly enough every time she brings her sound horse up to him she leads a dead lame horse away. Huh? Put two and two together there lady! I heard a similar story from too many people to want to even think about using him, but now I had no clue who to use. Knowing that I like my horses barefooted, I searched the web for a barefoot trimmer and came up with exactly one option - K. A self proclaimed barefoot trimmer with a lovely website and a fair price. So I booked her for last Saturday and nervously waited to see what she would do. When I called her I told her where we were (W Farms) and she said she knew the place and how to get there. See you Saturday.
I know enough about barefoot trimming to ask the right questions and be able to spot BS when I hear it. I had a host of questions ready to test her knowledge and make sure she wasn't going to hurt my horse. She lacked personality, but (arctic farrier you don't count) it seems to come with the territory. She was promptly on time, handled my horse calmly and answered all my questions with the proper buzz words to appease me. She didn't touch the parts of the hoof that I knew shouldn't be touched and didn't make them look all wonky. I made a return appointment with her for 6 weeks. Interestingly enough, two boarders (one of which I severely dislike) who were present during this (oh! and play a vital role in tomorrow's post) pulled her aside at the end to ask her advice on their horses who were foot sore. I found these interactions to be very interesting. Interesting enough to bore you with them:
The first person, S, has a mare who is shod in the front, but barefoot in the back. Her back feet look lovely, but her fronts are wonky and she is always painful after a trim. She asked K her opinion about pulling the fronts and letting her go barefoot. She only rides on property in the grass. Personally I see no reason why any of the horses on the farm are shod since none leave the property and spend all the time either on grass or sand. But, I digress again. K gave her opinion that, yes they could easily go barefoot and that they were overall healthy hooves. S asked me if she could join our 6 week rotation and use K and I was happy to.
The second person, D (who I dislike), has a gelding and is the above mentioned lady who can't seem to figure out why her horse is always so lame after being trimmed by wonder farrier. She plays an extremely vital role in all my drama of late. Anyway....after scowling at the farrier through my and S interactions she asks her for a second opinion on her horse. K spends significant time looking at the hooves, testing for soreness and explaining to K the difficulty the horse is having since the wonder farrier decided to cut away all toe and all heel leaving little for the horse to comfortably walk on. What was amusing was D's inability to understand that K is a professional herself and that her time is money. D kept asking K if she felt that her original farrier could fix this or that and what to tell him. K was patient through all of this. I would have told D to either pay for my services or understand that her farrier created these issues and the chances of him fixing them are slim, but good luck with it and left.
Anyway...here are some pics of Gemmie's lovely feet. I took them so that I could get her some new hoof boots. I am working with a patient woman (and fellow endurance blogger - see Boots and Saddles) in California who is going to send me some trial boots and see how things go. I am apparently brain dead when it comes to measuring the hoof though because I have now done it twice with similar results and they just aren't matching up with what is realistic. She offered up another technique which I will try tonight and see if I can clear the hoof fog from my brain. Enjoy!