Happy National Farriers Week 2022: Reasons To Thank Farriers

I really wanted this to be a tribute to a special group of people, but I’ve come to realize that they are nearly impossible to put into words. A skilled farrier must be able to keep a sharp knife in his hand while working underneath a large animal that occasionally resists having its feet worked on. The individual who owns the horse can often be the more difficult of the two options, so the farrier needs to know how to interact with them. He or she must work with a wide variety of materials, including metal, human skin, and feelings. Because he is working without the benefit of anesthesia, he must wield his tools with the dexterity of a surgeon and the strength of a wrestler. Simply by using their eyeballs as a measuring tool, skilled farriers are able to cut the angles of all four feet so that they are identical. When they pull out the calipers at the very end of the process, all it does is confirm that the work was done perfectly.

When you first consider the eye he needs to have in order to visualize a perfect hoof from one that needs to be sculpted to that ideal, you realize that he is also an artist. After that, he or she will need to form the appropriate shoe for the task at hand, which could be off by as little as a hundredth of an inch. I have seen oil paintings measuring 8 by 10 inches go for upwards of $8,000, but in my opinion, those paintings are not nearly as beautiful as a lame horse that was made sound by a farrier who, for the low, low price of $25, visualized the inside structure of the hoof, leveled the bars, rounded the toe, and released the pressure of an abscess. These vital tasks are typically carried out in the open air, despite the presence of any and all types of weather, and on whatever surface happens to be present. A significant portion of this delicate work requires him to perform it while almost standing on his head.

Because these individuals are artists, surgeons, psychologists, blacksmiths, and contortionists all at the same time, I do not feel adequate to adequately express the respect that I have for them. Sometimes the customer is on the verge of crying because their pony has become stuck, and the farrier has to rescue the pony’s feet while also dealing with the person who is in a panic. In some cases, the customer will only call the farrier once a year, right before hunting season, and the farrier will have to perform a miracle in order to ensure that the shoe will last until the following year. Sometimes people expect the farrier to do the training, or else they would have already gotten the horse used to picking up its feet on its own. Sometimes, when the horse is struggling, and all of a sudden there is blood on the scene, the customer quickly asks if Old Peanut is hurt, not caring that the farrier has sliced the pad off his thumb when Old Peanut jumped.

Obviously, not everyone fits into one of these categories, but a significant number of people do, which is why it is considered a problem. The American Farrier’s Journal recommends that farriers either stop doing business with customers who are inconsiderate or charge those customers a higher price.

When you consider everything that’s involved, you might find yourself wondering why anyone would want this job, and you can’t help but be in awe of those who do.

Both I and my horses are grateful to you for your help. Best wishes for a wonderful National Farriers Week in 2022!

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