If you want to work with high-end cutting horses, Collinsville, Texas, farrier Doyle Blagg says you must invest time to develop your ability because a lot will be asked of you to keep these horses going. Cutting horses often have a great number of injuries due to the strenuous, physical work that is asked of them when performing.

“For me, these are the top athletes of the equine world,” says Blagg. “And a good horse will hurt itself because it works so hard. This is true of every discipline. With cutting horses, you’ll have pulled tendons or chipped bones, but that horse will keep trying to go even though they are hurt. And you need to help that horse because if you don’t and the trainer continues to put that horse out there while it is hurting, there will be a point where it won’t want to work.”

Don’t simply rely on the trainer or rider’s report. Watch that cutting horse work. By watching the horse move, you are more likely to understand the injury.

“If it is a good horse, it will really sit down on its hind feet and really turn on its front end. If you watch that cutting horse work, you will know what it needs to do. But you may see that horse trying to work from the front end because it can’t keep its hind down due to soreness. And then you add a rider and saddle to the equation. The horse won’t get its front end out of the ground because that back end is sore and that cow will get by it real easy.” 

If the farrier or trainer is enough of a horseman to recognize those issues and then work with a vet who can locate and diagnose problems, the outcome is more optimistic without that dynamic.

It’s also important to understand your limitations as a farrier. Blagg says if you can address and treat an issue, you can help the horse. However, if you can’t effectively treat, it’s better to know that. Be open about what you can’t do and have the owner contact the vet. Because of the frequency of injuries, you need a qualified vet as a part of the team. You or the owner likely will recognize the problem prior to enlisting the vet, so communication is crucial.

Read more thoughts about cutting horses in the January/February issue of American Farriers Journal.