Last week I blogged about what I think makes a good farrier so I decided to turn the tables and look at how you can be your farrier’s favourite client.
- Firstly, be on time or at least have your horse ready and waiting in his stable.
- Make sure their legs are as clean as possible. If the farrier is coming on a winters morning then take the time to put your horse to bed the night before with clean legs. It’s really difficult at this time of year to provide dry legs, but clean wet legs are preferable to wet muddy ones so at least try to hose the legs off as much as possible.
- Have a dry area to work in, preferably under cover, but at least fairly sheltered. Some yards have a wash area, which also doubles as a clipping and shoeing area.
- Turn the lights on! If you know lighting at your yard is poor, then don’t book the farrier for early morning or late afternoon- especially in winter. Some farriers bring their own headtorch, but a large torch may be welcome if you think it will be a bit dim.
- Make sure the area is fairly clean. Pick up any droppings your horse has done in anticipation of his pedicure, and give a quick sweep so that your farrier can spot any dropped nails easily. And of course tidy up after him!
- Pay promptly; either have the cash or cheque to hand, or transfer the money to your farrier on the day.
- Book your next appointment in plenty of time, and try to remember it. Although I think my farrier would rather get a text asking for confirmation rather than him turning up and the horse not being there.
- Refreshments. This probably applies more to big yards, or when the farrier is doing multiple horses at the same yard, but they always appreciate a cup of tea or coffee. I have to admit, I’m not very good at remembering to offer drinks. It’s nothing personal, but with the fluid intake habits of a camel and currently having a baby sat on my bladder, I don’t tend to indulge myself in hot drinks let alone remember to offer to make a round! The yard I grew up on goes one step further for their farriers. Although, they have a bit of a cake culture in general; but every week when the farrier comes for the morning they serve cake with tea. No wonder all the apprentices want to go to that yard!
- If your horse loses a shoe on Saturday afternoon then holding off texting your farrier until Monday morning (unless of course the horse is crippled lame) will put you into their good books, and I suspect you’re more likely to have the shoe replaced sooner.
- A farrier will appreciate it if you can find said shoe, which makes their job easier and keeps costs down for you!
- Listen and respect what your farrier is telling you, whether it’s using overreach boots to prevent pulled shoes, or sticking to a strict five week shoeing cycle rather than allow it to drift between six and seven weeks. If they give you homework of applying hoof hardener, or treating the first signs of thrush. Or if they advise you that your horse needs to lose a bit of weight because of the laminitis risk, then act upon it!
- Rugs. I always think it’s easier for a farrier to work without a rug hindering them, which is fine in summer, but in winter they may just have to accommodate a rug. However, I like to think I’d earn bonus points by making sure the rug was dry and as clean as possible so that my farrier didn’t leave with mud streaks along his back or water dripping down his neck.
- Talk to your farrier, but not to the point of distraction. I’m sure we all know someone, or we ourselves, can talk both hindlegs off a donkey. Well this doesn’t help the farrier concentrate on his job, so after greetings and niceties make sure you give him space to focus and work.
- Farriers are pretty self sufficient in terms of providing their own equipment, but getting them a bucket of water or making sure there’s no obstacles preventing them using the nearest electric socket (unplug your mobile phone!) and their extension before they arrive means that they can set up quicker and generally be a lot safer.
I think that pretty much covers all the ways that you can prepare and take care of your farrier so that he feels appreciated. After all, if you look after him, he’ll find it easier to look after your horse’s feet.