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Evaluate a Horse Before Working with It

University of Illinois veterinary school farrier Steve Sermersheim warns against cutting corners when working with a horse


Pictured Above: University of Illinois farrier Steve Sermersheim discusses thorough evaluation of a horse before trimming.

Earlier in his career, Steve Sermersheim says that he was headstrong in thinking his approach to horseshoeing was the only correct way. Over the years, he became open-minded, realizing what works for him may not work for others. Although fads come and go, he finds adapting to solid shoeing basics is what helped him keep horses sound or improve. 

An important part to this is a thorough evaluation of the horse. The farrier at the University of Illinois’s Middlefork Forge shared some of his observations at a February 2021 clinic at Anvil Brand in Lexington, Ill.

Evaluating What is Appropriate

From high-end performance horses to trail horses standing in the dirt, Sermersheim shoes for all levels. For him, the beauty and challenge of farriery is what the foot looks like at the end of the cycle. 

“I try to apply the basics to every place I shoe,” he says. “What is the horse going to look like in 4-6 weeks? That will tell me how well I did.”

Sermersheim says there is no such thing as a perfect shoeing job, and the end of the cycle is a time to review what could have been done differently.

A common trap Sermersheim finds is for farriers to become loyal to shoes or theories, yet disregard what is appropriate for the immediate case.

“Yes, I have a favorite section or favorite shoe,” he says. “But I…

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Jeremy mcgovern

Jeremy McGovern

Jeremy McGovern has been a journalist for nearly 20 years. He has been a member of the American Farriers Journal staff for 7 years and serves as the Executive Editor/Publisher. A native of Indiana, he also is a member of the board of directors for the American Horse Publications organization of equine media.

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