Thursday, August 11, 2016


Unless you keep your horses at home, there's a certain amount of politics involved with the barn.  There's a lot of personalities, passion, and expenses in a small space.  There's a certain amount of compromise that has to happen in order to keep the peace.

I've been lucky enough to have some amazing support teams in the past.  I've had farriers, massage therapists, and vets that treat the best horses in New England.  I've gotten used to a certain level of expertise and skill.  In some ways, it's made me a snob with high expectations.  I don't accept so-so care of my horse.  It's also made me very educated.  I like to ask questions and if I can't get a straight answer, I assume something shady is going on.  But I usually get straight answers and learn about how my horses work and move.  I love my current vet and massage therapist.  They both do solid, straight forward work, answer any questions, and take good care of my horse.  Of course I love my trainer, she's patient and positive with my continued flailing.

After a shoeing job that had me seeing red about four weeks ago, I talked to Trainer A about the barn farrier.  Theo is straight forward to shoe, but he's also in heavy work and has increasing demands on his body.  He's simple, but he shouldn't be set 'em and forget 'em.  I've been having problems with chunks of hoof missing after he gets his shoes done.  I've been having heart attacks thinking I've got white line brewing or that his hoof quality is still crap despite his biotin supp.  His feet just look crappy to me.  I'm not a farrier so I couldn't put my finger on it, but the angles looked off.  Then he started losing nails regularly and this last time his clinches weren't done correctly.  They were sticking out enough to be uncomfortable when picking up his feet.  A clip wasn't fully set.  This screams hurrying through the shoeing to me.  He also reset shoes despite my repeated demands that he not do that, Theo chews through them too quickly.

The decision was that Theo should move to my personal farrier, the one that did Fi's feet, permanently.  I wasn't happy with the barn farrier but it wasn't doing Theo any harm in the beginning, it saved me $100 a shoeing, and it kept peace at the barn.  I stuck it out and kept my mouth shut to other clients.  And I'm sympathetic with Trainer A.  She wants me to use the farrier I want, but she's not the barn owner.  She was just the monkey in the middle with me tantrum-ing on one side and the owner not wanting to lose a guy that's good at keeping the barefoot school horses trimmed.  For walk/trot horses with shoes in front, he's fine.  For a horse in serious work, he's not good enough.  As soon as I saw signs that it was doing Theo harm, I was done.  I'll play nice when it's a matter of preference, but when I see crappy shoes on my horse, I'm not doing it.  Nope. 

My farrier was out today.

I missed him so much.  Theo and I were dripping sweat from trying to sneak in an 8am ride before the heat hit.  Didn't work.  I stood there, wringing my hands, while he pulled shoes and checked the situation out.  Please, please, please don't have white line.  I will never forgive myself if I waited too long and there was real harm done . . . .

He's fine.  No white line, no hoof quality issues at all.  Theo's now in a slightly different shoe that places the nails in just a bit more, away from the edge of the hoof.  It's an overall wider, stockier type of shoe.  As my farrier described it, it's harder to nail a shoe like that, but you won't see bits of hoof tearing off when his shoes are taken off and he shouldn't lose nails at random.  His back shoes are on with just 4 nails per shoe right now, giving the damaged parts of his hoof a break and a chance to grow in.  There's nothing wrong with Theo's feet, it was just the nails were too close to the edge.  He also took a lot of toe off of his back feet and added a rocker toe up front to bring his breakover back more.

It takes my farrier almost 2 hours to do one horse and costs me almost twice as much.  I regret none of it.  Theo's feet look nice again.  He doesn't have shredded edges on his hind feet or sharp points anywhere.  Clinches and clips are all completely flush with his hoof.  He's in shoes that were hot set, ground, and shaped specifically for him.  We talked about his confirmation (he toes out slightly) and optical illusions (his right foot looks bigger, but his shoes are almost identical).  My farrier says he's super simple, just needed some tweaks and some quality time with the rasp to bring his toes back.  He'll be fine on a 6-7 week schedule, rather than the 4-5 weeks I was doing trying to keep shoes on his feet.

Theo was a little freaked about the hot shoeing, he doesn't like the smell or sound, but he didn't care about much with the farrier's monster fan blowing on him.  Nap time for the pony. 

I feel like a huge boulder is off of my shoulders.  I was so worried that I had a lurking issue that was making his feet shred.  Hearing that it was just a tweak to his shoeing left me giddy.  Theo will get shod again before regionals, then he'll settle into a nice, normal shoeing schedule.  A little Keratex on the nail holes and sole was suggested, but that's it.  Tomorrow I'll get a feel for how Theo goes in a rocker toe.  I'll get some pictures of the finished shoes tomorrow as well.  After two hours, mi papi was done with standing quietly and got moved into a stall to wait out the worst of the heat.

Our show is forecast to be 90* with high humidity and afternoon thunderstorms.  My ride times are 10:30 and 2:30.  This is not okay.


  1. Farrier is one area where I will not compromise. My barn has a guy who's inexpensive and efficient and really cool to talk to. All the horses he works on are sound, but I have been through too much foot-wise to go with someone unless I'm all in. I pay more, bring in my own guy, and make it to every appointment to stay on top of things.

    It's worth it to me.

  2. An excellent farrier is worth his weight in gold (or beer as my farrier prefers). I'm glad you don't have any lasting problems.

  3. I'm having a similar issue right now. My guy's feet aren't as bad as they could be, but not what I'd like to see either. But I'm having a hard time finding a farrier that does good work and isn't crazy expensive, so I'll probably just have to bite the bullet. But, if you can stretch how long they go in the shoes like you are, it works out much better!