Health Hazards of Hoof Care

Our online survey finds that horses and repetitive-strain injuries are most likely to cause farriers to miss work

Farriers are aware that theirs is a potentially hazardous occupation. Anytime a significant part of the workday is spent standing underneath animals that can weigh well over 1,000 pounds, while picking up one of its feet, there’s obviously a chance that something could go wrong.

But there are other dangers as well. Farriers regularly work with forges that heat metal to a bright red — if not white — heat. They pound on hot and cold metal with hammers, potentially creating dangerous flying fragments that can lodge in an unprotected eye. They spend long hours working in positions that are, at best, awkward and, at worst, contorted.

But what actually presents the greatest hazard to farriers? What do they most need to be aware of and take precautions? We recently conducted an online survey to try and find the answer.

The Survey

For this survey, we asked farriers to give us information about lost-time injuries during the most recent 12 months — essentially from September 2012 to September 2013.

The survey included 15 questions, most of which were multiple-choice.

We received 119 responses. Of those who responded, 105 identified themselves as full-time farriers and 14 as part time.

Our respondents skewed toward those with more experience. Only six had been shoeing for 5 years or less. Sixteen had been shoeing 5 to 10 years, while 96 (81.4%) had been shoeing for more than 10 years.

Among farriers who responded, 55 (46.2%) reported suffering a lost-time injury during the period in…

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Pat tearney

Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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