“We can do lots of things to the horse, but the question is: what can we do for it?” 

That’s the question that Blane Chapman asked attendees on the second day of lectures at the 44th annual American Farrier’s Association Convention in Overland Park, Kan.

“I thought about what I see on the horses that I regularly shoe that I need to change in order to help horses along,” says the Lubbock, Texas, farrier.

As a result, Chapman came up with what he calls the five solutions to horseshoeing.

The trim. Develop and understand the proper trim protocol and shoe placement.

Protection. What is protection and how do farriers protect the foot?

Support: How, when and why do farriers support the foot?

Leverage: How do farriers reduce or add leverage to a foot?

How do we use these combinations in the mechanics of the shoe in order to achieve soundness in these horses?

“It doesn’t matter how good of a horseshoe you have,” Chapman says. “It doesn’t matter whether you buy them, make them all, or you take a flat piece of steel and cut them out with a torch. The horseshoe is only as good as it’s applied.”

Randy Luikart, an Ashland, Ohio, farrier, discusses weight bearing mechanics and balance during a demonstration Thursday at the American Farrier's Association Convention in Overland, Park, Kan.

Hoofology: A Study Of Equine Podiatry

During the second and final lecture of the day, Burleson, Texas, farrier Pat Burton recounted several tips that he learned over the years.

“When I was younger, I used to take notes during clinics and conventions,” he says. “I went through those notebooks and looked at some of those things. Some of them are kind of silly, but some of them really work.”

The knowledge that Burton would gain at these events was so immense that he often would get frustrated because trying to apply what he had learned would slow him down. A clinic featuring Ashland, Ohio, farrier Randy Luikart really messed with him.

“I realized how stupid I was,” he recalls. “I had no concept of balance. I got back from the clinic and started shoeing Arab horses. I remember the trainer came out and he said, ‘What’s the problem?’ I said, ‘I went to this clinic and I learned how to shoe these longer-footed horses a little bit better and I’m trying to do a better job.’ He said, ‘Well, you’ve been on this horse for like 3 1/2 hours and this is kind of ridiculous.’”

Burton told attendees his goal was to provide information that they could take home and use immediately in their practices. Among the tips he shared were three questions he always asks when he receives a phone call from someone wanting to hire him.

“I want to know, where has this horse been?” he says. “Who’s been doing it and what’s been going on with it? And, how they got my number? Because I have some other farriers in my area who don’t like me very well and if they have a really bad horse, they tend to give my number out to them.”

While part of the tip is tongue in cheek, other tips were more serious.

“Never, never, never undercut another farrier’s price,” Burton says. “It takes me a long time to train these people to pay the bills. The people pay for your expertise. It costs money to come to this event. It costs money to educate yourself. You need to understand that you need to invest that money in yourself. You need to charge for the expertise you have.”

Every farrier has at least one client who is cringeworthy. He suggests a way to deal with that client.

“When the phone rings at 5:30 on Friday afternoon and you know it’s Sally and you kind of get an acid reflux coming up into the back of your mouth, that’s a bad client,” Burton says. “You need to get rid of them. If you charge a little more, it might be easier to pull into that driveway. There’s a reason you don’t like going there and so with that in mind, adjust your prices accordingly.

Burton, who maintains a successful multifarrier practice, finds keeping track of the time spent with a client is beneficial. When he implemented a time sheet for each visit, he was surprised at what he learned.

“You will find that some of your clients you think are your best are actually time suckers,” he says. “I had one client for 7 years. I thought she was a really good account. It was the worst account I had. I slept so good the day that I quit there. It was unbelievable.”

The Rest Of The Schedule

 Other events that took place throughout the day included:

  • A wet lab by Allie Hayes and Jacob Butler that focused on using a horse skeleton to illustrate how the upper conformation affects lower limb conformation.
  • Roy Bloom and Tom Willoughby demonstrated blacksmithing techniques using a Big Blu power hammer.
  • The American Farriers Team presented a shoeing demonstration.
  • The National Forging & Horseshoeing Competition.
  • The Farrier Industry Association Marketplace opened its doors.