According to American Farriers Journal’s 2019 Farrier Business Practices Survey, nearly 60% of farriers say that they frequently work in weekly consultation with an equine veterinarian. When working with a vet frequently, developing a good working relationship will be beneficial for all.
As the Large Animal Clinic farrier at the University of California, Davis, Shane Westman has a rare vantage point of working closely with both professions. He has a few tips that farriers can follow to to boost your potential for success.
1. Leave your ego at the door and call in expert help when needed. At Davis, Westman will work on referral cases in which the horse’s farrier comes to the clinic. A common perception he finds among some farriers is the hesitancy to call for help because of a misconception that it reflects poorly on them. Instead, handled correctly, it demonstrates some of the qualities of a professional.
“In Washington, I worked with very few Friesians,” he says. “Now in California, I have many come to my shop. I will refer these to another farrier who is known for working with Friesians. Everyone wins in this scenario. The other farrier gets work. I gain knowledge by working with that farrier. The owner is happy because they are being their horse shod. I also send videos of their horses when we work with them, which the owners love.”
2. Do not diagnose to the owner what you think is wrong with the horse. It is important to maintain a definitive line between the two professions. Unfortunately, both professions can overstep and blur those line.
Farriers need to understand the difference between voicing a concern and diagnosing.
3. Speak the veterinary language. “You need to know these simply to follow along,” he says.
Westman also finds that this can gain instant credibility with an unfamiliar vet who may be unaware of your expertise.
For more tips for both farriers and equine veterinarians, read “12 Ways for Farriers and Veterinarians to Improve Working Together” in the July/August 2019 issue of American Farriers Journal.