Farriery is an ancient craft that can be traced back to the Roman Empire, where it was originally used for military purposes. Yet many are still unfamiliar with the profession, or perceive them as just “shoers,” not realizing the monumental affect they have on a horse’s well-being.

Farriers do much more than just shoeing a horse. They look for warning signs of diseases such as laminitis and white line, are proficient in equine anatomy, adept at metalwork to forge horseshoes and have a good horse sense of knowing when the horse might spook or run away.

Bellmore, N.Y., farrier Sara Rothery reminds the public why farriers are so important and how the work they do encompasses many aspects of the horse’s health.  

Rothery studied animal science at the University of Connecticut and is set to begin studying farriery at Cornell University.

She was drawn to farriery instead of other animal health professions because of the immediate affect a farrier has on a horse.

“It’s the one part of the industry where you can help horses every day,” she told The Island Now. “You can put in 2 hours of work and it can make a big difference in the way the horse feels and performs.”

Horses rely on their hooves to get around, but figuring out what works best for each horse can be tricky. Just as people need podiatrists and have different kinds of shoes they are most comfortable in, every horse is unique and it takes a great deal of skill to figure out what will work best for them.

“Horses are like humans in that they are connected to the ground by feet,” says Rothery. “A horse’s hooves must be protected from the ground so they do not get bruised. And proper shoeing helps with conformation, gait, running, jumping and posture. At this point, there are literally hundreds of types of shoes for horses.”

While farriery has grown and changed since the Roman Empire, the fundamentals of it remain the same: to provide essential hoof care that allows horses to live happy and healthy lives.