It’s no secret that a farrier’s job is physically demanding. Contorting oneself into a pretzel under a 1,100-pound horse for several hours a day has a tendency to leave even the fittest person with an assortment of aches and pains — particularly the back.

Bending your knees while working on horses’ feet will help keep your back healthy.

David Crouthamel doesn’t believe that a farrier must suffer from a bad back while tending to horses’ feet. The North San Juan, Calif., farrier makes a simple suggestion.

“I trained myself to squat when shoeing horses,” Crouthamel says. “Bent knees keep the lower back in alignment. Now, 33 years later, I still have a good back with no chronic pain. I move freely to the amazement of many of my clients.”

Crouthamel definitely is on to something. Alignment is critical to body mechanics and posture, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). Proper alignment of the body — how the head, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles relate and line up with each other — puts less stress on the spine and helps you maintain good posture.

To maintain proper alignment, the NOF suggests avoiding these positions or movements:

  • Having a slumped, head-forward posture.
  • Bending forward from the waist.
  • Twisting of the spine to a point of strain.
  • Twisting the trunk and bending forward when doing activities such as coughing, sneezing, vacuuming or lifting.
  • Anything that requires you to reach far. An example is reaching up for an item on a high shelf, which also could cause you to lose your balance and fall.

How often do you find yourself doing any of these things while performing your daily farriery tasks?

Do you have a helpful tip that you would like to share with your fellow farriers? Please send it to Jeff Cota at If we use your tip, we’ll send you a free shirt.