In the farrier industry, there are a lot of folks who can put shoes on horses, but not a lot of them know how to build shoes to improve the horse’s situation. Most of them use factory-made “keg” shoes. For many of them, the trade is primarily a business; for me it is an art and a craft that puts your horse’s well-being first.
I do not use prefab keg shoes. Although it typically takes significantly longer to shoe each horse, I design, craft and set only custom hand-forged horse shoes...
While I often have to take extra time and effort to condition horses to be comfortable with it, I believe that the best fit can be achieved through hot shoeing...
Every day, I look for opportunities to learn something new about horses and horse shoeing. I study the specific stresses that various disciplines and work place on equine athletes: dressage, jumping, endurance, barrel racing, reining, roping, ranch work, pulling a cart, following hilly trails or helping inexperienced humans learn to ride. I further push my skill level to build better shoes and expand my knowledge of how best to help the horse by participating in education through competition...
When I see a new horse, I talk with the rider, the trainer and, when appropriate, the veterinarian, to learn about what the horse is doing, how much it’s being worked, its general health and temperament and if there has been any history of lameness. I watch the horse move, seeking any signs of discomfort or imbalance.
When the horse is sound, I first like to get a basic job on its feet. Then at the next visit, I’ll have a better idea of how to improve the horse’s situation based on how the shoes have worn.
When the horse has an issue, if I have not already been referred by one of the veterinarians with whom I work, or if the client does not have current x-rays, I usually recommend a veterinary consultation. Then I collaborate with the doctor to determine the best course of action. In any therapeutic situation, I like to work closely with the vet to avert what may not have to be a life-long problem. X-rays taken both before and after corrective shoeing allow us to see improvement. Ultimately, we want to get back to normal shoeing whenever possible.
Some horses present tough challenges. Some have been through many farriers; some don’t improve as expected with what is being tried; sometimes one farrier’s attempt at a veterinarian’s recommendation doesn’t work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the diagnosis or prescription was wrong — it may just require greater precision, a different process or more patience. I embrace challenges. And if I’m not able to gain ground, I humbly seek help from my many farrier friends and mentors with more experience.
MY PHILOSOPHY: ON HORSES AND HORSE SHOEING
First ride on my young horse Dandy — another learning journey!