As hoofcare providers, we have a tough job. I don’t know of many other professionals where you can literally die, even if you’re as safe as you can possibly be, from one wrong move. Even the kindest, calmest horses can have a moment- a fly lands on their stomach, for example, and suddenly a hoof is all too close to our head.
I am in a lot of farrier Facebook groups, and I don’t think a day goes by without a post asking for advice about rehabbing an injury incurred from a horse on the job. It’s sobering, to say the least.
I’m sure there isn’t one horse owner that would say they don’t care about the safety of the equine professionals in their life. That being said, I think many owners aren’t sure how to best support their horse and help appointments go smoothly. How can we help horses to feel comfortable and stand well to get their feeet done?
When picking out a horse’s hoof, you need the foot up for less than 10 seconds. When trimming a foot, you often need the foot up for multiple minutes to do everything you need to do to get the foot balanced and trimmed well. Many horses aren’t used to that, and as prey animals can become quite anxious that they don’t have the ability to leave whenever they want.
A horse that is having trouble standing for appointments is exhausting for us. They can tweak our muscles and our back and even mentally exhaust us as we try to complete a job that can be difficult even when a horse DOES stand well, imagine how exponentially more difficult is when they are fighting us the entire time!
With all this in mind, I talked to some hoofcare providers on how to best prepare horses for their appointments: to ensure we are safe, the horse is safe, the owner is safe, and to also make our daily appointment more enjoyable. No one wants to go to a job where they dread they may get hurt!
I spoke with Kristin Thornberry, a hoofcare provider and trainer in Arkansas, on some practical ways to help horses become “farrier friendly.”