Finding The Best Farrier For Your Hard-Working Equine Athlete
Performance horses often have very specific shoeing requirements. These equine athletes are asked to stop on a dime, make gravity-defying turns, and accelerate suddenly from a standstill. If not properly shod, these horses can pull a shoe or, even worse, injure themselves. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a talented farrier could help a horse perform at its peak. That is why it’s so important to find a farrier who is experienced in shoeing horses that compete in your discipline.
How to Find the Right Horse Farrier
Whether you’re unhappy with your current blacksmith, searching for a specialist, or new to your area, finding a good farrier is not always easy. Here are a few tips to help you locate a qualified professional for your horse’s shoeing needs:
- Use the American Farrier’s Association’s (AFA)’s “Find a Farrier” search tool to locate a certified professional in your area. While it’s true many good farriers never bother to get certified, the ones who do took the time to complete advanced studies on areas such as equine anatomy and movement problems, and they will have also passed any required tests. In addition, they will need at least one year of experience to become an AFA Certified Farrier, and at least two years to become an AFA Certified Journeyman.
- If you board at a large facility that is serviced by numerous farriers, ask the other boarders for recommendations. You should also take the time to observe the farriers at work to see how they treat their equine customers. A farrier should be firm, but patient with a horse. Stay away from any who are easily angered or overly rough with a horse that displeases him or her. This is especially important if your horse is sensitive, fearful or young.
- If your horse is boarded on your property or at a small barn, ask your veterinarian or trainer if he or she can recommend a good farrier for horses in your discipline. Another good source of information? The staff members at your local saddlery.
- Be open to travel. Some serious competitors will trailer their horses relatively long distances to a farrier who specializes in their discipline. For them, it is worth the time and effort to get their horse’s hooves in the right hands.
Strange as it may seem, another person you can ask is a farrier who is fully booked and not accepting clients. Often, these farriers are so busy that they’ll gladly recommend a farrier friend or a former apprentice.
Three Hallmarks of a Good Farrier
- They have many years of experience. It is especially helpful if they are well-versed in shoeing horses that compete in your particular event. Bonus points if the farrier is also a horseman who participates in or has participated in your riding discipline, as he or she will have a thorough understanding of your sport’s mechanics.
- Upon meeting your horse for the first time, the farrier thoroughly studies its conformation. Good farriers will also ask you to walk and trot your horse so that they can check for any abnormal action that may need correction.
- They are dependable. No matter how experienced a farrier is, this person won’t do you any good if he or she constantly cancels your appointments.
Just like proper shoeing could possibly help a barrel horse gain the fraction of a second necessary to beat its competitors or give a heading horse the needed traction to burst out of the box at maximum speed, tacking your mount with the right saddle pad could also lead to an advantage at a competition. A horse that is tacked in an ill-fitting pad or one that doesn’t provide enough cushioning will not be able to give you its full effort.
That’s why you need to get the best saddle pad possible for your athlete. At Best Ever Pads, we pride ourselves on producing high-quality saddle pads that are custom-made here in the United States and built with the comfort of your horse in mind. For more information or to order our state-of-the-art pads, please contact us today!