Picking a farrier is like dating. (From an Owner’s point of view.)






I have to find a new farrier now that I am 5 hours away from my previous farrier.

My biggest issue is that I only do trims.  In Grass Valley, there were several barefoot trimmers to chose from – some fanatical, some fabulous.   Just like any farrier, I went through a few before I found a great match.

Here, no farrier does just trims.  They shoe.  In fact, people don’t even know what ‘barefoot trim’ means.  After several inquiries, I now realize that a barefoot trim around here means:  ‘Oh, you’re not putting shoes on this time… OK’.

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A FARRIER TRIM  vs  A BAREFOOT TRIM

First of all, just like any practitioner, there are many toads to kiss in the barefoot trim world before you will find your prince.

Barefoot trimming is half podiatry engineering and half common sense.   It isn’t just trimming to prep the hoof for a shoe or cutting back the excess hoof… it is shaping the individual hoof in relation to how it hits the ground per the anatomy of the horse.  This takes education and understanding of balance, pressure, bones and footfall.

Like any farrier, the courses to learn barefoot trimming aren’t as robust as the experience needed to actually understand it.

But to me, the emotional difference between a farrier who does trims and a barefoot trimmer – is the knowledge and the belief that a barefoot hoof is inherently good.

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IT IS LIKE DATING

Finding your farrier match is a process.  It is like finding a mate.

My criteria:  You have to like each other (since you will spend quite a bit of time together…), you have to like his animal husbandry, his politics (you chat a lot while holding a horse), his manners, his business acumen, his punctuality and the most important, to me – he must have sharp tools.

Lots of farriers have some of these traits, but not all have most of these traits.  Or, I’m a tough owner, not sure.

But, I like what I like… and since I have 10-12 to trim each time, I want to be happy.  I want my horses to be happy.

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THE ULTIMATE FEEDBACK COMES FROM MY HORSES

The ultimate decision comes from my horses – I can read my horses like a book.

If they fuss or pin ears or don’t stand well, I know the farrier is not a good match.

If they are calm and chewing… well… that means a lot.

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A FARRIER TEAM CAME TODAY

I live in a cow town with real cowboys.  These guys have horses who work on ranches and have other jobs at night, like roping or rodeoing.

The farriers have sliding shoes and working shoes and street shoes… all kinds of shoes.  The idea of riding barefoot is like suggesting riding on quicksand.  Why would you want to do that?

Today, a team of farriers came.  This was my first clue that they are not trimmers, per se.

Anyway, the older one was very chatty and got to know me as a new potential client.  He could tell that I was more touchy feely than most of his clients so he tuned his attention to sweet tales of horses – he even showed me a pic of his granddaughter and his old horse.  It was very cute.

The young one was trimming my way overdue horses as if they were to be shod.  He barely took anything off!  They had long toes and after he was done, I couldn’t hardly tell.

So, I gently suggested that these horses have been barefoot for years and they are fine to trim more… I also had to remind the young one that Dodger is 36 and cannot raise his hip as high as the young farrier was demanding.

Anyway, after 5 trims, I figured he’d have to be back in 4 weeks.  Sigh.

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WHO TO ASK FOR A HUMAN REFERRAL

To get referrals, I asked the neighbors who they used… and no one used any one guy.  Hmmmmm.

I did go to tack stores and feed stores but none had any trimmers to recommend, only shoers.

My next idea was to ask a rehab facility.  They did give me a name.  They said he was a great farrier but didn’t know about his trimming…

So now I’ve just gone to the Easy Care website to find a barefoot trimmer in my area.  There was one.  So, I texted her.  I got a nasty message back saying I had the wrong number – so she must have moved.

I’ll keep looking and I’ll keep you posted.

Dating can be hard, especially after you’ve learned a bit…  ;)

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7 comments have been posted...

  1. des

    You should try Ashley Pederson! She is really good! She trims my moms horses and shoes them. She does barefoot trims, winter shoeing, shoeing and more. Her facebook is Ashley Pederson.

  2. dawndi Post author

    Like I said, a good barefoot trimmer is hard to find. I’ve also met the trimmers
    you’ve described. But, I still want a technically/biologically correct foot, not just
    a trim.
    I don’t have any horses that need shoes (and some do… we don’t breed for feet),
    and knowing this, I am having difficulty finding a trimmer who trims to my liking.

  3. seabrooksr

    Hmm. . . It’s funny, because I have never shod my horse, but I’ve had pretty much the exact opposite problem! Barefoot trimmers treat “Barefoot Trimming” like a religion. Somehow, “Barefoot Trimming” provides spiritual healing to any horse. It is the cure for all evils! After watching them work on other horses around the barn, I just say, “Nu-uh, no way you are getting near my horse! ”

    “But shoeing ruins feet! It’s unnatural and wrong! Barefoot is natural! Exactly the way God intended it.”

    “I don’t know if you’ve looked at those horses, Good Sir, but God hasn’t had much to do with them for a few centuries or so. You go out and find me some wild horses that are 1500 pounds (or more) on size zero feet. Or ones that regularly walk on pavement, work in sand, carry over a hundred pounds three times a week, or practice jumping two feet for an hour or so. Go on, I’ll wait.”

    Most of the barefoot trimmers around here take off too much, don’t know how to set the horse up for long-term soundness, or even, purposely sore horses to “make their soles tougher”.

    In contrast, the good shoers around here seem to be able to knock out a perfectly serviceable trim without any of the dramatics.

  4. Judith

    Sorry to hear about the dearth of barefoot trimmers in your area! I wish you could use mine (she would love to come, but she is in Massachusetts — she does travel around New England but California would be a stretch :-)). Do you suppose this is influenced by what breeds are popular where you are? Morgans and Mustangs have good feet, but other breeds perhaps not so much. Although, all the horses at my barn (our trimmer is the farm owner/manager) are barefoot — Morgan, Standardbred, Thoroughbred, Percheron, Quarter Horse, Appaloosa — without issues. I had thought the days of metal shoes and all-day stalling were over, but I guess I was naive.

    Still, the benefits of shoelessness are so significant — including how much less expensive trimming is than shoeing — I hope it will catch on where you are. Good luck with the hunt!

  5. Sandy Kelm

    Call the equine vets in your area for recommendations. Mine are barefoot too.
    Good luck,
    Sandy

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