How Reading the Horse Can Make Your Job Easier

Reading a horse’s body language can help you understand what frame of mind it’s in — and give you a guideline for approaching the horse.

Pictured Above: Tia Nelson, a farrier and veterinarian, lets a horse sniff her hand and rubs its forehead and neck to introduce herself

Many farriers starting out in the business today may not have much experience with horses. They might not realize the importance of reading a horse to understand its frame of mind before they pick up a leg to start working on the foot — especially if it’s a new horse they haven’t worked with before.

James Wyatt Weatherford, a horseman and farrier in Chandler, Ariz., says to take a moment to acquaint yourself with the horse and get a feel for whether it is relaxed and at ease or nervous.

“Is the horse looking around, with its attention focused on everything but the farrier?” he asks. “Is it resistant to your lifting its leg because it is fearful and untrusting, or because of a pain response? It pays huge benefits to be able to ‘read’ a horse and adjust your approach accordingly.”

Farrier Takeaways

  • Reading a horse’s body language before you start shoeing will help you determine whether the horse is relaxed or nervous.
  • Taking the time to introduce yourself and read a horse can help you establish communication with it.
  • Talking calmly to a nervous horse and giving it time to relax can make a shoeing job easier.

You’ll want to know if that horse is fidgety or a problem to shoe because it’s scared and insecure, won’t stand still because it’s in pain or just…

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Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas is a freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. She has been writing books and articles for nearly 50 years.

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