Farriers' Roundtable

That’s a tough one. Some folks want it straight up, while others want it sugar-coated. You have to know which type they are. Be professional and show them what you’re talking about.

Q: What is the best way to explain to clients, without offending them, that their horses’ conformation is a major problem?

A: That’s a tough one. Some folks want it straight up, while others want it sugar-coated. You have to know which type they are. Be professional and show them what you’re talking about.

In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie has a section about how to change people without them resenting it. That’s what we’re doing here — we’re changing the way clients see their horses. Some points from that section that apply:

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation. Talk about the good things you see in the horse. It has good condition, great manners, throws good foals, etc. Keep it positive and remind the client why they like the horse. Then talk about the conformation.

2. Ask questions instead of giving orders. Instead of saying that a horse is toed-in, ask if the feet are pointing in or out. By doing this, you are already letting them know their horse is one or the other, and this allows them to look closer and pick one of the two. Then they will feel involved in what you’re showing them and they won’t look at you as the bad guy for pointing it out.

3. Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest. Once you’ve educated your client about the conformational challenges, tell them what you can do to work around them…

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