Have you ever worn a pair of shoes that were so uncomfortable that you couldn’t wait to get home and throw them in the closet?
Perhaps you’ve experienced an ingrown toenail, a bunion or other foot disorder. These conditions are painful, can limit your mobility and ruin your day.
When these abnormalities occur, we can call a podiatrist and seek treatment, but when a horse’s hooves are affected, well that’s a different story. It takes a knowledgeable horse owner or barn operator, and an experienced farrier to resolve the problem.
Rochester resident Kendel Carr has worked as a farrier — an expert in equine foot care — for more than a decade, and visits stables throughout Southern New England, New Hampshire and as far away as Florida and South Carolina.
Many barn owners, such as Tish Ciccotelli of Engelnook Farm in Rochester, count Carr among an equine’s best friends.
“My mom had a horse when I was younger,” Carr begins, adding that he cares for horses, ponies, donkeys, miniature horses and a few goats.
“I’ve loved horses my whole life,” the farrier continues, noting that he once thought of becoming a large animal veterinarian. Carr graduated from Old Rochester Regional High School in 2003, and worked after school at Sterling Pointe Farm in Rochester, where he performed general farm chores and worked with the equestrian stable’s horses.
Carr later became an apprentice to a farrier who serviced the farm, and subsequently established his own business and became self-employed 6 years ago.
“The most important thing at the end of the day is that the horse is sound — comfortable and not lame — and can walk without pain,” Carr emphasizes. He treats between eight and 14 horses daily.
Carr also teams with equine veterinarians to create treatment and rehabilitation plans to ensure good outcomes when medical problems or injuries occur.
“No foot, no horse,” the equine expert emphasizes. “If a horse’s hooves aren’t in proper condition, the horse should not be ridden and can’t walk properly.”
One of the challenges that Carr faces daily is the size of his equine charges. He admits that it isn’t always easy to work with creatures that can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and can be temperamental at times.
“They are not always cooperative,” he admits. “Most of the horses are good. Some try to bite or kick. I’ve been bitten, kicked, trampled and run over.”
Despite meeting a few unruly equines in his travels, Carr still loves his job.
“I love being around the horses and I like meeting most of the horse people,” Carr shares, adding that a few horse owners, like some cat and dog owners, pamper their animals and treat the pets like children.
The experienced farrier, noting that many equines are living longer as a result of improvements in veterinary medicine, says senior horses require special treatment.
“You have to go easier with them,” he tells. “A horse that is 25 years old is like a person who is 75 years old. Their limbs are arthritic. They can’t bend like they used to. You have to gently maneuver them.”
Ciccotelli says it’s important for horse owners and barn operators to establish a good working relationship with a farrier.
“I love watching a farrier work,” she observes. “You learn so much.”
The horsewoman believes that a good farrier should be gentle, knowledgeable, and willing to make adjustments when necessary.
“Every horse is different,” Ciccotelli explains. “The farrier must respect that.”
Carr adds, “No two feet on a horse are the same.”
Nancy Arnold, an Engelnook boarder from Norfolk, Mass., says she’s very impressed by Carr’s ability to keep her horse Greta calm after the equine suffered a painful leg injury.
“It been quite a challenge to find a farrier who can convince Greta to pick up her hind leg, “ Arnold says, adding that Carr has been treating the impressive horse since last fall.
“He’s very gentle,” the horse owner says. “I think it makes a big difference. Greta’s much calmer and she’s in better shape.”
Carr hopes to expand his business and is seeking an apprentice. He adds that the work can be taxing and the hours are long.