Recognizing and noting the intricacies of a horse’s body language are vital to a farrier’s productivity and safety, Texas horseman Chris Cox told attendees at the 2023 International Hoof-Care Summit. “Learning how to read an animal and knowing a little bit about the instincts of horses is as important as your relationship with the client.” Photo by: Lewis Horn III

How Equine Body Language Keeps Farriers Safe and Productive

Understanding the horse is as important as your relationship with the hoof-care client

You know as well as anyone that today’s society is dramatically different than it was even just a decade ago. Few children grew up on ranches or farms. They don’t get up early to feed the chickens or milk the cows. But they are buying horses and becoming professionals who work with horses

“There are some people becoming veterinarians with no livestock handling experience at all,” Chris Cox, a professional horseman and founder of Chris Cox Horsemanship told attendees at the 2023 International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. “There are farriers with very little livestock handling, too. When I talk about livestock handling, it’s not just a horse, but learning how to read horses and their instincts.”

Despite the lack of experience, the industry relies on people without this first-hand knowledge to join the ranks so that it can survive. Putting yourself in a compromising situation because you feel pressured for time or money, or because a horse is misbehaving, can quickly become a situation that jeopardizes your career. And you can’t rely on the handler anticipating and responding to a horse’s reaction that could hurt you.


  • Meet with new clients before working on their horses. Explain your process and expectations.
  • Fear, anxiety and tension start in the horse’s mind and flow through its body to his feet. Understanding a horse’s mindset, where its thoughts are, can prevent injuries.
  • More than anything, horses crave rhythm, a tempo starting with how they are approached to how they are handled, trimmed…
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Katie navarra

Katie Navarra

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer who draws from her experiences owning and showing horses, and inter­viewing the industry’s leading pro­fessionals.

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