DALLAS GOBLE, THE equine veterinarian who developed the herd health program for the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales, has an understandable affection for the big horses. But he also understands how many farriers feel about them.
“If you want to give a farrier a bad time, don’t tell him you have draft horses until he’s on the farm,” Goble told an audience at the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Mass., recently.
Many horse owners don’t seem to understand that there’s a difference between shoeing “light” and draft horses. Goble says that rather than engaging in “farrier bashing,” draft owners need to understand that:
Too many owners don’t touch the horses until they are 1 to 2 years old. As a result there is little interest by a farrier in wrestling with a 1,300-pound draft colt that has only been green broke to lead and has never been touched below the knees or hocks.
There are often no facilities (cross-ties, stocks, an isolated area to work in, etc.), plus reliable assistance may not be available.
The farrier’s time is his most important commodity. Even well-behaved draft horses require a longer time to have their hoof-care needs addressed than a lighter horse, and the weight difference is significant in just holding the feet up.
Few areas have enough draft horses to support specialization by a farrier in shoeing them. This means a farrier who does both draft and light horses must carry a larger inventory of shoes, nails and other supplies…