Tom Petersen

Handling the Owners of Neglected and Abused Horses

A half-dozen Montana farriers share their opinions

Tom Petersen says many horse owners don’t want to be notified about when their horses need to be trimmed and shod again or when they need special attention.He finds that trying to be more assertive doesn’t always work with some horse owners.

Tom Wolfe, a veteran instructor at the Montana State University Horseshoeing School and part-time farrier, estimates 15% of the horses he sees are neglected. Other area farriers deal with similar concerns.

Roc Lee comes across abused or neglected horses at least once a week. “Hoof neglect would be on a daily basis, if you want to be specific,” he says.

But the type of clientele has a huge impact on what farriers see. As an example, Scott Glew seldom sees real abuse cases any more. “When I was first starting out,” Glew recalls, “I’d see a lot of shoes that had been on for a year. Feet that you’d need to use a hacksaw with.”

Now his customers are different. “I’m working with the Forest Service and a lot of bigger ranches,” he says. “I’m working with more knowledgeable people.”

Where’s The Line Between Neglect And Abuse?

Farriers understand good horse management, but it’s difficult to judge someone else’s horsemanship practices. Definitions vary from owner to owner and farrier to farrier. One ranch may pull shoes in the winter and not look at any of the feet until spring.

To other owners, that’s abuse. Some farriers wish they could trim those horses over the winter. Others reluctantly accept…

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