Preparing for the Farrier: Part 2
- August 26, 2017
- Savanna Simmons
I visited with Doug and Jacob Butler of Butler Professional Farrier School in Crawford, Nebraska, earlier this year for an article in Tri-State Livestock New’s Horse Round-Up 2017. Read the story here. The Butler Family has an incredible amount of knowledge to share, and Jacob has composed a three-part series for Cavvy Savvy.
It is important to recognize when working with horses that even after you try and prepare the horse for farrier work, they can still be unpredictable. An owner cannot plan for every single scenario. However, as you learn from experience you can try and avoid certain situations. Each horse has its own individual personality and may react differently to the environment around them.
If an owner doesn’t realize the behavior of the horse is causing a problem, try to see it from the Farrier’s perspective. I have had owners ask as I am being pulled around by a horse if the horse is doing something he shouldn’t. A horse’s behavior should be corrected or reprimanded sooner than later so the situation doesn’t become dangerous. If behavior issues are not corrected by the next farrier appointment, the horse will have learned a new behavior and due to the horse’s size and strength may be able to get away with it. The farrier may not return your call for a return appointment.
Here are a few things that may be helpful during the appointment:
First, the farrier and owner can schedule regular appointments. The trimming and/or shoeing process becomes a regular event. A horse can become frustrated when trimming and shoeing takes a long time. We often witness this when teaching farrier students. As students are learning, a horse may become agitated and impatient due to the length of time it takes a beginner to trim or shoe. This is a good motivation for a student to have a plan before getting under the horse and executing that plan.
Second, limit distractions. When the farrier is scheduled the owner should prevent unnecessary commotion and distraction that will prevent a horse from standing quietly. Stables with many horses and crews of hired help can present distractions. There may be quieter times to schedule trimming or shoeing after the majority of chores and feeding are done. Owners should recognize as they work around the barn the need to limit noise and other distractions while the farrier is working.
If an owner needs to give a treat, the time to do it would be after the appointment where it can be a reward. I appreciate when treats are not given during an appointment since the horse begins to expect them and becomes fidgety looking for the next treat.
Third, apply fly spray and try to keep fly numbers down. In summer horses are bothered by numerous flies. This can be an inconvenience and hassle for horses and farriers. Horses are uneasy and often stomp their feet, trying to get rid of flies. Fly sprays are helpful but sometimes provide limited results.
Fourth, horses are herd animals and become very attached to other members of the herd. I have been in many situations where a horse that acts unruly will immediately calm down once it can see one of its horse companions. The location where the farrier does the horses should be big enough to allow for a companion to be present too.
Fifth, if necessary and before the situation becomes dangerous, have a veterinarian administer drugs to allow the horse to relax and not resist. This is a quick alternative so the trimming or shoeing can be done without extra risks. Ultimately, a horse should be trained to stand still for the farrier. However, due to time constraints and scheduling this can make the situation safer for horses, owners and farriers. Farriers cannot afford to get hurt. A farrier can literally be kicked out of business!
About Savanna Simmons
I'm Savanna Simmons and I live north of Lusk, Wyoming, on the Four Three Ranch with my husband Boe and our sons, Brindle and Roan. I grew up evolving my horsemanship with clinicians like Ray Hunt, Joe Wolter, and Jack Brainard, but not within a...