Finding a Farrier

By Patty Wilber

My farrier, who I had used for something like nine years, retired a few months ago.

It has been awful finding a new one! A farrier works for the horse owner, so technically I am looking to hire a new shoer,  but in truth, the best situation is a partnership.  So, rather than a want ad, I think I need an online farrier match-making site.  In my profile I could put:

  • Horse trainer in search of farrier.
  • Longing for a long-term relationship with a like-minded individual.  Gender not an issue.
  • Must like young horses as well as oldsters.
  • Must be fair and patient with them.
  • I have diverse training interests, so I am looking for someone with similar shoeing interests and skills. (Pleasure, mountains, trail, ranch horse and cattle work)
  • I am looking for someone who is willing to work on solutions to (shoeing) difficulties and to be a true partner (working toward the best for the horses).
  • Must not blow me off for another (client).
  • Must have time for me (in case a horse loses a shoe, mainly).

Don’t want much, do I?

Looking back on my farrier experiences…

One was afraid of my pony when it seemed obvious to me that she was easy. No second date.

One was really good and I used him for a few years, but then he retired to run a feed store.

One seemed good, so I had him back a few times, but then…Without my permission, he came early, started and finished before our appointment, and (here was the big issue) he put the horse back into the WRONG PEN, with another horse.  Nothing happened, but geez. Stopped seeing him.

I tried a barefoot shoer.  That means she didn’t put shoes on, but instead trimmed so the horses didn’t need them, not that she went barefoot.   I was skeptical as it is so rocky around here, but I was seduced.

She did not have much chemistry with one of my quirky horses and despite initial assurances that all horses can go barefoot without boots, quickly agreed that I was wearing the feet off my animals and they needed shoes.

Another one was quite good for my mountain horses, but then I needed  high-level reining and cow horse shoes.  We drifted apart.

I got set up with a good (and expensive!) reining cow horse shoer but he had some sort of aura that scared the heck out of a stud horse (LT’s and Indy’s Dad, Buckshot) I had in training at the time, for reasons known only to the horse, as I was present for every shoeing.  On the third shoeing, Buckshot started shaking when the guy drove up. I decided to take the advice of the horse and broke up with the shoer.

Finally, I found Kelly Robinson.

I told him the story of the stud.  Kelly took his time and soon the stud was snoozing while he got his feet done, and we never had any problems. And Kelly’s shoe job was good enough to carry the horse to a Reserve National Championship in Junior Reined Cow Horse.

Buckshot, the formerly fearful of farriers. LT and Indy’s Dad.

I warned him about the hard to get along with mare because she would hold a grudge (a vet who missed the vein was never allowed get near again, for any reason).  Miss Horse tried to treat Kelly like the barefoot shoer.  He reprimanded her appropriately and she loved him from then on.

He was able to shoe LT, the perpetual motion machine, without losing his mind. And he performed some shoeing miracles so that she could slide 25 feet in an arena as well as stay upright on mountain trails.

Long slide marks by LT.

LT is upright here after a 25 mile ride, but just before this, she misjudged a step in a creek and we got a little wet. It was hunting season, so we are very orange. She resembles her daddy!

He kept Penny’s club foot in shape to earn 200 youth show points with Sydney.

Penny and Sydney!

He never cancelled.  Ever.

My horses were never sore.

He would come out to treat abscesses and replaced any lost in the mountains or pulled off shoes promptly.

He helped me halter Indy for the first time as a nine-month old, and did a good job handling and trimming the babies and first shoeings.

Indy’s first trim.

And then age caught up and he retired.

The nerve!

To find a new farrier, I asked around.  I called around.  Some were too busy to fit me in, some were too busy to call me back. One wouldn’t do more than two horses a day. One didn’t want to work in the winter.

I didn’t even try with those.

Found one that did good work, but it was a bit of a long-distance relationship, so lost shoes did not get replaced, and I got stood-up, twice.

Tried to talk my old farrier out of retirement!  It did not work.

I got out my list and tried again. 

It snowed and rained and hailed this Tuesday, but my first date was not cancelled!  We got along, and things went well with all of the horses, even the one that was kind of nervous and goofy.

I want to be cautious as I have been unsatisfied(!) so often, but, after one meeting, I think I have found my new farrier!



About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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4 Responses to Finding a Farrier

  1. EMoonTX says:

    Good news at the end! May it continue. Good farriers are hard to find…and as a one-horse owner (now) who wants her lightly ridden horses to go barefoot, coming for a trim only is not that lucrative. Brian, however, is great. Unfortunately, though he’s younger than I am, he’s also wearing out. Trimming & shoeing is HARD WORK. (In a hiatus between farriers, I attempted to trim my first horse myself. Learned a lot, like that I’m not a natural talent at trimming and only a horse like Ky, who would patiently rest his foot on a stack of bricks and merely heave great sighs as I struggled with the hoof nippers, would ever put up with me.)

    My current farrier is excellent–firm if a horse (like Mac, in particular) decided to be naughty, but patient with Illusion in his last years when an old injury in the right hind leg really bothered him.) He worked diligently on Mac’s extremely bad feet (wrong shape, thin walls, thin soles, never riding-sound and often very gimpy, did best on dry hard ground, worst in wet weather.) Never abusive, nearly always early or smack on time, good at communicating with me (as with the horses), called if something happened in a prior call to make him late. When I bought Mocha and she had very ill-fitting shoes on her fronts (her owner’s work) I called Brian to tell him I’d bought the horse and could he possibly fit me in just to take them off in the next day or so. He came by the same day, did so, told me how the owner (whom he knew because he did horses at the other barn) did things (which explained the hind shoe nailed to a front hoof.) But he has a heart condition, and at some point will have to retire, and I don’t think his son, who finishes HS this year, is going to go into farriery. So I’m facing the dreaded “farrier’s moved/died/retired” thing in a few years for sure.

    So I hope you’ve found your next “real good, long-term relationship” again.

    • Patty says:

      Me too! I am hopeful!
      I trimmed a horse with a friend. The horse was very long and when I was done I thought her feet looked pretty good. She on the other hand was really sore…for a couple of weeks. Sigh.

  2. Doranna says:

    Oh, good luck! A well-matched farrier is truly gold.

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