Business Advice

Basic Guide to the Role of a Farrier

A farrier is a professional who specialises in the hoof care of equines. This will include horses, donkeys etc. This is a professional that has existed for a very long time. The word “farrier” comes from the Latin word “ferrarius” which means blacksmith. While a blacksmith and a farrier are two different professions today, traditionally, it was blacksmiths who carried out the duties of a farrier.

A farrier should have some skills that a veterinarian has so that they can identify whether the horse has any health conditions regarding the hooves. They should also have the skill of a blacksmith as there is some work involved in the making of horseshoes and adjusting them to each horse. The application of horseshoes requires quite a lot of skill as well. They have many farrier tools that help them in their trade such as farrier knives, rasps, hoof nippers, anvils, hoof testers etc. A farrier will inspect the horse’s hoof for any signs of disease and they will intervene before a large problem occurs. Lameness is a condition that will occur in horses quite often so this is something that they watch out for. Trimming hooves is an important job that they will carry out and there are several tools they use for this such as nippers and rasps. The excess hoof material is cut off so it helps the animal keep their balance. It also ensures that the horse’s feet have the right length and shape for maximum efficiency and comfort.

Hygiene and cleanliness of the hooves are very important as the horse will be walking on ground that will have faeces and urine. This generally occurs when they are kept confined. This can lead to infections if not monitored. So the farrier will have to make sure that the feet of the horse are clean. They will cut out any excess hoof walls and remove dead frog and dead sole. Generally, domesticated horses will be given horseshoes. Because they are not walking on hard surfaces as often as wild horses, their hooves are not naturally worn. Horseshoes can also be used for corrective purposes such as correcting their gate or helping them get more traction when walking on slippery ground. There is also the category of performance horses where horseshoes are necessary. The farrier will remove the old and worn out shoes and proceed to trim the hooves. After measuring the shoes to the feet of the horse, the shoe will be bent and modified according to the shape of the horse’s feet. They are then applied to the feet using the hot shoe or cold shoe method.

It is not just cutting and applying horseshoes that farriers do. They will also reshape and adjust the hooves of the horse. Depending on the horse, it will take about six weeks to two months for the trimming of the hooves to be done. This will ensure their feet and lower limbs are balanced and steady. You can find horseshoes in so many different designs, styles, weights sizes etc. They will need some reshaping to ensure they fit the shape of the hoof. There are also custom shoes that can be used. This will be done by certain farriers who have a lot of skill as blacksmiths.

Carma Gatson
the authorCarma Gatson