What is a Farrier?
A farrier is someone who is part blacksmith and part veterinarian, specializing in equine hoof care. A farrier needs to be able to remove old horseshoes, measure, fabricate, adapt and adjust the new metal shoes to a horses' feet, as well as use knowledge of the anatomy of the lower limb to care for the health of the feet.
A farrier will trim the hooves in order to maintain proper shape and length, clean the feet and cut out excess hoof walls, dead sole and dead frog. A farrier is able to watch for signs of disease or other health related issues such as lameness, and can intervene before a major problem occurs.
What does a Farrier do?
A farrier is a professional trained to fit shoes to horses. While this career is not as prevalent as it once was when horses were used as work animals, this trade is still highly respected and continues to be a necessary a part of equine health. Shoes must be regularly removed, replaced, and inspected.
The shoes are fitted uniquely to each animal. A farrier shapes the shoes through cold shoeing (where the metal is beaten into shape while it’s cold) or hot shoeing (where the farrier forges the shoes while the metal is hot). Improperly fitted shoes can cause a lot of damage to a horse, likewise the right set of shoes can drastically improve a horse. The farrier can also act as a first response veterinarian—they are able to see any issues that a horse might have, such as foot diseases.
Fitting a horse shoe requires a lot of patience and strength. Horses are very large, powerful animals, so a farrier must be careful while working on them. Before beginning, a farrier will evaluate the horse’s gait, hoof balance, and conformation. Changing or fitting a shoe requires a farrier to lift up the hoof so they can work on it. After the shoe is off, the farrier will clear out any caked-on mud, trim the hoof, and inspect the general health of the foot. A farrier uses a variety of tools which he keeps close to him while working. Horses typically require re-shoeing every six to eight weeks. Farriers might specialize in a specific type of shoeing for specific horses, such as jumping horses, racehorses, or gaited horses.
What is the workplace of a Farrier like?
Farriers spend most of their workday either outdoors or in a barn, working side by side with horses. Being a farrier is a very physically demanding job that requires a certain level of strength and fitness. Farriers must be able to stand for long periods of time while lifting and bending a horse’s legs. It is said that four hours of farriery is similar to eight hours of construction work.
Some horses can be a bit more temperamental and difficult to work with, which will require more time. Once a farrier gets to know the horses, he can begin to tailor his schedule to fit the client. There is also some travel, as the farrier must go to the barn where the horses are kept. A farrier usually lives in more rural areas where they can be closer to their clients.
Farriers are also known as:
Horseshoe Maker Equine Hoof Caretaker Journeyman Farrier