Often farriers come across problems that are difficult to answer. We gave several Hall Of Fame farriers an assortment of these questions to answer in our latest edition of Getting Started, a free guide given to shoeing school graduates and other new farriers. In one, Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School's Bob Smith addresses what you do when a client says that a horse was fine, but after you shod it, the horse came up lame. How should a farrier address this problem?
"First, remain professional on the phone and in person," says Smith. "Make an appointment as soon as possible to evaluate the horse. Listen and make eye contact with the client as she explains the problem as she sees it, without interrupting. Remember that the horse may be a personal pet and emotions sometimes get in the way of logic."
Watch the horse move and evaluate the lameness, isolating it to a specific leg/foot. Check for a digital pulse. A normal horse at rest usually does not have a digital pulse. A strong digital pulse would be indicative of a foot problem. Use your hoof testers in an attempt to find the specific area of the foot that is the problem.
Attempt to find the cause of the lameness. Remember that this is not a "blame game," but an honest attempt on your part to help the horse and satisfy your client.
If the problem is of your making, such as a bad nail, resolve the problem by removing the nail, establishing drainage and/or put on a pad. Admit your mistake, take responsibility and let the client know that you are sincerely interested in "fixing" your mistake.
If the lameness isn't in the foot or if the lameness is beyond your abilities, let the client know that they will need a veterinarian. Tell the client that you will be at the appointment to work with the vet to resolve the problem.
If your work caused the lameness, and the client insists that you pay the vet bill, do so. Learn from your mistake and move on. Speak privately with the vet about the bill. Most will give you a professional discount on their fees and allow you to make payments to satisfy the account.
"You will set yourself apart as a farrier that is willing to take responsibility for the work that you perform," he adds.