Okay. Following the various equestrian communities lately, I've noticed some troubling notions about farriery that I'd like to address...
SHOEING SHOULD NOT MAKE HORSES SORE. Okay, to err is human. Anyone can misread a foot now and then. But it is not normal or acceptable for previously sound horses to be sore after shoeing or trimming. If someone tells you otherwise, they don't know what in the hell they're doing. (Note that making major adjustments in balance, such as trimming a severely overgrown hoof back to some semblance of normal, can cause ligament soreness if the horse isn't rested for a couple days afterward. That is a different matter entirely.)
IF A HORSE CAN'T GO BAREFOOT ON MODERATE GROUND, HE IS NOT SOUND. A freshly shod horse should be able to have his shoes pulled and immediately go on normal ground without being tender-footed. If he can't, the foot has been over-trimmed and the sole is too thin. Shoes on sound horses are supposed to be an enhancement for heavy use, severe terrain, or high performance, not a necessity for light use on turf.
NO HORSE SHOULD ROUTINELY BE SORE AFTER EVERY TRIM. Some horses have weak, sensitive feet and thin soles, and are easier to make tender than others... But a competent farrier should recognize such feet and trim accordingly, or, at the very least, realize that he over-trimmed after the first time and preserve more horn mass thereafter! If trimming results in soreness, too much was taken-off. Period.
THE FARRIER NEEDS YOUR INPUT. You can tell the farrier about the horse's history (especially laminitis issues), tendencies, past problems, and the kind of use you intend to put the him to. This information will help the farrier tailor the work to the animal's individual needs.
A FARRIER DOES NOT NEED TO BE TOLD HOW TO DO HIS JOB. If you feel the need to give the farrier specific instruction on trimming and/or shoe application, you need to either get a better farrier or buy some tools and do it yourself, since you obviously know how better than the professional expert you hired.
YOUR VET, TRAINER, RIDING INSTRUCTOR, AND STABLE MANAGER ARE NOT EXPERTS IN APPLIED FARRIERY. Yes, vets have tons of formal training, but almost none of it has anything to do with trimming and shoeing the equine hoof. He has no more business giving shoeing instructions than the farrier has dictating colic surgery technique. Trainers are notorious for buying into fads... Wanting to believe that their horses lost because the competition had magic shoes rather than admitting the other guy had a higher quality horse with better training who would have won even with cinder-blocks strapped to his feet.
NOT ALL HORSESHOERS ARE CREATED EQUAL! So many people complain that they've used multiple "farriers" with poor results. But I know how a lot of horseowners choose their shoers. Back when I was in the Yellow Pages (before switching to referal-only), I'd come home almost every day to find messages on my machine from people wanting their horses shod. More often than not, when we returned the calls, they'd already got someone else. Or they couldn't wait until we had an opening. Or they developed a speech impediment when we told them our rates... If you're selecting a horseshoer based on the fact that he's got nothing better to do than answer the phone in the middle of the day, and is in so little demand that he can come out on short notice and is willing to shoe for beer money, you are not likely to get a top-quality professional farrier. Being the handy "barn shoer", looking good in jeans, and being buddies with the vet/trainer/etc. are also less than impressive evidence of competence under the horse.
FARRIERS SHOULD BE UNSURPASSED AT HOOF TRIMMING. We tend to focus on forging skills because fire, sparks, heavy tools, smoke, and bending steel to our precise will are just plain awesome... It wasn't that long ago that the ability to turn a decent shoe was a rare thing, helping to separate the real farrier from the backyard shoe-horser... But trimming horses to go barefoot makes up a large portion of the typical farrier's trade. And, for all the emphasis on forging fancy therapeutic and corrective shoes, the majority of practical therapeutic and corrective shoeing is applying fairly ordinary shoes onto properly trimmed hooves. The bulk of farriery is about recognizing what the individual needs and balancing the hooves accordingly. A good barefoot trimming specialist may be able to do it as well, but nobody should be able to do it better than a fully competent professional farrier.
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