Question about farrier training

Kim Leitch

On Friday, I went to try out a horse, an OTTB. He was advertised as barefoot. When I looked at him, the first thing I thought was how long and flared his feet were. The owner said he was not due for a trim for a few weeks, but the farrier wants to put shoes on him, because, “he wears his hooves down too much between trims”. I was puzzled, as he had way too much foot. I finally realized that he must be talking about the sole being thin, yet his trims were doing nothing to fix it.
Today, I went to a hunter horse show, the first I have been to in several years. I have learned a lot about proper trims from this group in those years. This was a large show, lots of horses, but I did not see a correctly trimmed or shod horse in the bunch.
What do they teach in Farrier schools today? Why are they not being properly trained? How can we fix this situation?

Kim 10-2014

Clover, SC

Case History

Photo album Grits

Photo album Eeyore,,,20,1,0,0
Photo album Dually,,,20,1,0,0
Photo album Bella

Rita Chavez

Hi Kim,

I'm sure a lot of members here feel the same way you do! I believe it's an owner & farrier problem. "Most" horse owners don't want to pay for a new set of shoes and a trim every 3-4 weeks. Long-standing beliefs are that the horse should be able to go 6+ weeks in between shoeing. What they don't understand is how quickly the hoof wall grows and how quickly that foot becomes distorted. Then the farrier is left with the task of nailing a shoe onto an overly long and distorted hoof wall. I have yet to meet a farrier who was willing to point out the problem with long trim cycles. My horses have always been barefoot, but I had a lot of difficulty in getting my farrier at the time to agree to trim every 3 weeks. I was seeing flares, chips, cracks and his only explanation and solution was that I should just shoe them. He even said then I could go every 8 weeks. Searching online brought me to Pete Ramey's website and from there to Paige Poss (who mentored me online with photos and so many helpful learning suggestions when I first attempted to trim them myself). That was 2005. Once I started trimming every 14 days the flares, chips and cracks vanished. And it suddenly all made sense. 

Now, learning about sugar in the horse's diet and its affect on the hoof has brought about a whole new level of understanding and necessity for a proper trim. Educating the general horse owner is a whole bigger issue. You either want to learn and make it better, or you don't. 

Kirsten Rasmussen

Once you know what to look for, horses with good trims and healthy feet are about as rare as lottery winners.

Kirsten Rasmussen
Kitimat, BC, Canada

Sherry Morse

Totally agree with Kirsten.  I have soooo many pictures of bad feet in my collection.  As Kirsten also knows though, sometimes it doesn't take much for your own horses to get away from you.  I had Lavinia do some markups for me for my farrier early last year when I took a look at my mare and realized her hind feet were getting a bit bullnosed.  My farrier had the same reaction I did ('how did that happen and when did it happen') and we addressed it right away but that with knowing everything I do and trying to keep an eye on things AND having a really wonderful pro who is very open to suggestions and corrections from others.
Sherry and Scutch (and Scarlet over the bridge)
EC Primary Response 
PA 2014

Lavinia Fiscaletti

Or hen's teeth.

It's hard to change perceptions when they have become enshrined as "gospel", and that gospel is the underpinning of a person's training and later practice. Changing it requires admitting maybe you don't know everything and maybe there are better options available - a process people tend to not enjoy or embrace willingly.

Once upon a time, horses were shod for part of the year, then allowed to remain barefoot for the "off-season". An old timer's observation was that it would "drive up the quick" while they were barefoot. As horses began to remain shod year-round, the obvious changes in the feet from season to season were no longer happening and the gradual splaying of the hoof capsule became so common it supplanted an actual healthy foot as the norm. Unfortunately, normal does not necessarily = healthy.

Jan 2005, RI

Moderator/ECIR Support