Friday, July 6, 2012


I hit the jackpot with my new farrier.  I talked to every horse owner I met about farriers in the area, studied local horse magazine ads for farriers, and collected business cards off feed store bulletin boards.  If someone had a website, I visited it and researched his or her philosophy.  One thing I knew was that I did not want a farrier who was going to force me to shoe my horses on every visit, nor did I want a farrier who would be rigid on the time frame between trims and lay guilt trips on me for straying from that frame.  Every horse is different.  Bombay has been known to go 12 weeks without needing a trim because he's active and wears down his hooves well, while Gabbrielle has a crooked hoof with a lot of flare that hurts her if it gets too long, and Lostine has pedal osteitis, so they need to be trimmed more often.

I'm not sure why, but I got a good feeling about this one barefoot farrier and chose him.  He showed up right on the nose to the minute of our appointment.  Many of the farriers where I come from are drunks and often showed up hours late or not at all.  I had to go through a lot of bad farriers to get to the guy I used in Nevada for many years.  He did a good job, but had no barefoot training.  In fact, there were no farriers in my area of Nevada with barefoot training, so I was very pleased to have my pick of them here in Arizona.

My new farrier was quite eloquent.  He had such a knack for teaching that I had to ask if he runs barefoot trim clinics.  He said he enjoys teaching his clients, but has no desire to speak to large groups at clinics because there are already enough people doing that.  Somebody had commented in a previous post that I should get Pete Ramey's books and make sure my farrier is doing it right.  Well, guess what?  My farrier studied for a year with Pete Ramey.  He was trained by him personally.

He talked about what he found with each of my horses' hooves and what he was doing to improve on them.  I found out that he used to be a traditional farrier and horseman, but kept educating himself and flipped in the opposite direction towards all natural approaches, from shoes to no shoes, from bits to bitless.  He even echoed one reader's advice to leave the rocks in the paddock to help toughen up their feet.  His background in horsemanship includes working as a medieval jouster, performing in wild west shows, shooting guns from horseback, and leading guided horseback tours through the Superstition Mountains.

He talked with me about riding and training horses as well as trimming hooves.  His goal is to learn everything he can about what is best for horses and work with them the rest of his life.  He was so gentle with my horses, and interestingly enough, had none of the problems with them that my farrier back in Nevada had.  Bombay didn't pull his legs away and lean on him.  Gabbrielle did swing her butt at him to try to knock him sideways in the beginning, but eventually fell asleep during the trim.  Lostine ran from the halter, because she didn't know him.  Normally, when the farrier arrives, she walks into the halter to volunteer first, because she loves her pedicures.  Once I caught her and he began working with her, she fell asleep too.  He was sensitive enough to notice the she seemed a bit arthritic in her legs, so instead of clamping her leg between his chaps, he laid her hoof on his boot and trimmed that way, being careful not to pull her legs out to the side, but keeping them underneath her.

In the end he told me that I have very well behaved horses.  That made me feel like a proud mom, though I knew I didn't deserve any credit, because I've hardly worked with them over the past year.  He told me I got one of the best locations in the area for horseback riding.  I can ride in my yard and I can ride the trails across the street.

While he was trimming Gabbrielle's hooves, my husband came striding down the driveway to work on the well.  We did eventually get all our water pressure back after about 10 hours, but my husband wants to learn everything he can about our well to keep us out of trouble in the future.  Anyway, he yelled out, "There's a rattlesnake right here!  What do I do?"

I looked up to see him standing right next to the dang thing.  Fortunately, it was slithering away from him, but unfortunately, it was headed for our house toward the area where we take our dogs out to pee.  I said, "Get a long stick, pick it up and move it."

He grabbed a rake and stopped it, but couldn't really pick it up without a rope or single hook on the end.  He tried chasing it away from the house, but the snake was being stubborn, so the farrier climbed the fence to go help him.  The farrier said that he doesn't like to kill anything, but since we didn't have the proper equipment to move the snake, and since it was headed into a space where we had kids and horses and dogs, he made the decision to kill it with a shovel.  He said we don't want to give snakes the opportunity to nest under our porch.  My husband buried the head.  Then I went to the feed store to get some HoofAlive that the farrier recommended and asked if they had a snake pole.  Nope.  I guess I'll have to order one over the Internet.

When the farrier climbed back over the railing of the stall to finish Gabbrielle's trim, she raised her head really high and her eyes got all big and bulgy.  We laughed at her and she relaxed.  She stood so well for him.  He stopped working to chat quite often, and normally Gabbrielle would have had ants in her pants, swishing her tail and pawing the ground to hurry things up, but she seemed to like being in his presence.  He had a tranquil effect on all of my horses.  He sure improved my mood after all I've been through in the past couple of days.  He inspired me to start turning my focus back to the horses, something I've been looking forward to doing, but kept getting pulled away from by random acts of cruelty to my pocketbook.


Promise said...

He sounds like a great guy and a good farrier. I always trust my animals' opinions of people. Glad you found someone on the first try!

lytha said...

right, your rocks. i was gonna say something but you said you'd experienced lots of chipping with rocks. i would love it if my horse had rocks to live on right now, and that donkey especially! they hit them often enough in their daily lives, and it helps keep them sound on rocky trails. it's the mustang way.

but of course other factors are also in play. let me know what happens!

allhorsestuff said...

You sound gteat!! He sounds like a true horseman and a very lovely person too. Luck, I think deserve all of it for the years you put up with!

What a delightful experience!

I broke down and had Wa Shod in front... The Easy walkers didn't fit, I lost $150. Worth hoofboots. He said her white line looked like Snake River. My new Farrier guy said a few times shod , then shed be ready for the polymer shoes. But I'm NOT keeping her shod over the winter!

With shoes I've noticed her tripping. What is your take?

Thanks, can't wait to catch up more with you!

Cheryl Ann said...

My horses also got a trim today and they ALL did well, even Sunni ("scared Sunni")...I have a Mexican farrier who trims thoroughbreds and he has a nice, soft singing voice and he talks to all of them and they relax. I swear, Sunni was almost asleep and that's REALLY unusual! Glad you found a good one. I had one that yelled at Sunni "HO!" for an hour. This guy told me today, "You have to be gentle around this big guy." He is so right! I would have killed the rattlesnake, too. They are just too dangerous around dogs.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

KK - My farrier's advice was to never put metal shoes on your horses, and use the hoof boots only when necessary until their feet toughen up enough that they don't need them. I'm sure there are exceptions, like when Bombay cracked his hoof so severely that he needed a round metal shoe to act as a vise and pull the sides of the crack together.

Cheryl Ann - I was worried that you would get upset over us killing the rattlesnake, because I know you hate it when drivers run over them in the road on purpose. I suppose if we weren't in the middle of trimming horse hooves and repairing the well, we could have put more time into dealing with the snake, but we're really not experienced enough to take chances.

Dreaming said...

You could check with Carson at 7MSN about making a snake pole. I seem to remember a post she put up about making her's with PVC pipe.
Hooray for good farriers. It sounds like you found the perfect guy for your horses. He sounds so much like my farrier... I wondered if someone cloned some barefoot guys?!!

Rising Rainbow said...

I'm so glad to hear you found a good farrier, and on the first try. Maybe your luck is changing. Wouldn't that be cool.

I am a firm believer that you get what you are expecting from horses. If you expect them to do something spooky, they will. If you expect them to behave most times they will. Sounds like your new farrier expected the best and that's exactly what he got. Very cool.

And it doesn't matter that you haven't spent as much time with them as you would like, what matters is that you spent the time sometime so they know how to behave. Even when they get time off, they still remember their manners if given the opportunity to do so.

Katharine Swan said...

Your farrier sounds great! I think I am going to have to change farriers. I don't want to -- although my farrier doesn't do perfect work, he has a way with horses that so many people don't have. He did a great job on Panama, with no objections from Pan at all, way back in the beginning when Panama had a reputation for fighting the farrier. But his quality of work has gone downhill over the years, and although Panama has great feet that do find with a so-so trim, Rondo's seem like they will require some additional skill to keep them in good shape. Changing farriers after almost 5 years is hard, partly because I feel so disloyal and partly because it's so hard to know who will do good barefoot work! I'm like you, I don't want shoes!

Mikey said...

Your new farrier sounds great! That's a bit of good news there!! Glad it was good.
As for the rocks. Hmm. I leave mine in my big horse pen, but I don't ride in there. In the area I ride in, I raked all the rocks (after I hit my head on that one so hard) and had 2 truckloads of sand put in. About $400 for the sand, but worth every penny. Keeps the dirt down and rocks from coming up, plus it's where the horses LOVE to lay down.
Rattlesnake, lol. I don't blame you for killing him, but if you can get some tongs, they work well if you're ok working up close (wear your boots, some of them get squirrelly) and you can get a decent pair of tongs on Ebay for under $100. Or you can look at my version, make it as long as you want..... the link is here

Reddunappy said...

Sounds like an awesome guy, your new Farrier!!! Glad he is Ramey trained!!!! Bonus!!!

When I use a Farrier, he is an old friend, and a former boss of mine. He retired and started shoeing horses! LOL
I dont have a barefoot Farrier close to me that I will use.
I am lucky I can trim my mares myself, sure has saved me a lot of money over the years!!!
I really want a set of hoof boots for Emma!
EEEk I am so glad we dont have any snakes more threatening than a Garter Snake!!! I rarely even see them.

fernvalley01 said...

Wonderful! he sounds just wonderful!! Keep him!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Mikey - Interestingly enough, I previously searched for where I could buy a snake catching pole and your blog post appeared second in my search results. I kicked myself for not finding it sooner, because my husband had just returned from the hardware store. I'll also have to get a trash can with a lid, and hopefully will have the time to transport the snake elsewhere next time I see one. The problem is that the only place I can put it away from other houses is on state trust land where people hike and ride horses. It's a no win situation.

lilyrose said...

Sure sounds like you hit the jackpot with your farrier. I'd be interested to know who he new one is a woman. She's very good, only does barefoot, but she comes up from Tucson. I worry that she will grow tired of that drive.
We've had to kill a few rattlers over the years. One refused to leave our off with his head!

Carly said...

I just found your blog. :)

I've been getting more and more into barefoot trimming and switching my horses over. All started because one of my guys has a cracked hoof where a hole forms because of it. He wears renegades on any ride that involves the roads with all the rocks. The other two will be getting their renegade hoof boots this month. :)

Once Upon an Equine said...

Wonderful that you found a great farrier in your new home. Nice of him to do double duty and help with the snake. Yikes! Yeah, you wouldn`t want one nesting under your house.

achieve1dream said...

Sweet!! Your new farrier sounds AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to steal him away lol. There are no barefoot trimmers here either and it's so annoying. I can't believe you found someone who actually studied with Pete Ramey! Cool! I was going to mention the rocks thing too, but I'm no professional so I didn't lol. Different surfaces are awesome for toughening hooves. :D Congrats on your awesome farrier.