“No foot, no horse” is an old fashioned saying that basically means if a horse has poor feet, whether it’s quality or conformation, they will suffer from soundness issues and will have a shorter or interrupted working life.
Don’t now look at your horse’s feet and panic that they’re long in the toe, a mis matched pair, have a crumbling hoof wall. Just invest in a good farrier and they will work wonders for your horse.
When you’re looking to buy a horse you should always consider their feet. What can be improved in their feet with time, and what are the limiting factors? It may be worth discussing with your farrier and vet before you weigh up whether the added expense of extra care for the feet balance the horse’s talent and other characteristics. As well as the asking price.
The next thing to do is find yourself a good farrier. I never appreciated until recently what a good job mine does with Otis’s feet. With the exception of his pusy foot in April, they’ve never (touch wood) caused me problems. I know they aren’t perfect and he can’t go a day over six weeks, but they’re in good condition. Obviously he has a healthy diet and I use an excellent hoof treatment, Kevin Bacon, to help keep his horn nice and strong. But we can’t do much about the fact one front foot is half a size bigger than the other. Or the fact his hoof-pastern axis is slightly broken back and his toes tend to be long. Nor can we stop him being base narrow with his hind legs, causing him to slice off all the feathers on the inside of each foot with the opposite shoe. These are all minor conformational faults, but in the wrong hands they could become expensive problems.
Signs you have a good farrier:
- They ask how your horse is performing, and if the workload is changing.
- You can ask them questions about anything in relation to the feet and they will answer with a straightforward explanation.
- They will suggest changes to stable management to help improve the feet – such as wearing over reach boots, or using a biotin supplement.
- They will notice and inform you of any changes or problems. Such as seedy toe, or a grass crack.
- They will change the shoes used if necessary; moving from the hunter shoes to natural balance, remedial shoes, or even hand make them.
- They will adapt their technique to suit an individual horse. For example, cold shoeing a horse who doesn’t like the smell of hot shoeing.
- They make friends with your horse and treat them kindly. And be patient with youngsters.
- If you lose a shoe you can ring them and they will endeavour to get out to you the next day.
- If you suspect pus in the foot you can ring them and they’ll be there as soon as possible.
- They’re on time. On the right day.
- If your horse is in and waiting then they will begin shoeing whilst you’re stuck in traffic.
- Prices are reasonable and consistent.
Does your farrier tick these boxes? If they do then they’re a keeper!