James Wyatt Weatherford likes to start his horsemanship classes off with some quiet time in the saddle for students to connect to the horse. Photos: James Wyatt Weatherford

Basics of Horsemanship for the Farrier

Appropriate handling and communication skills prevent injury to the horse, farrier and owner

Many horses can be difficult or dangerous if the farrier is unable to develop a rapport with them through empathy and proper handling. Basic horsemanship skills are crucial for avoiding injury to both horse and human, as well as for becoming a successful farrier. Being able to develop good relationships with the horses you work on not only ensures your safety but also makes your job much more enjoyable.

Establishing Trust

James Wyatt Weatherford, a horseman and professional farrier in Chandler, Ariz., has been shoeing horses for 40 years. He built his reputation as a farrier who had the horsemanship skills to handle horses that some people call “man-eaters” — the horses that other farriers don’t want to or can’t deal with.

“Yet those same horses desperately need someone who can properly and safely take care of their feet,” Weatherford says. “They need hoof care, proper nutrition and health care just like any other horse. However, if you can’t catch them or they are fractious and dangerous, you can’t provide that care.”

Farrier Takeaways

  • Establishing trust and confidence through empathy with the horse will keep horse, owner and farrier safe.
  • Communication goes both ways since reading body language can inform you of a horse’s intention before it is carried out. Also, it is crucial for the farrier to be clear in directing the horse.
  • Teaching a horse to stand still and attempting to shoe the horse should be done at different times for the safety of the farrier and the…
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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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