Making The Horse A Willing Participant

If presented with a horse that isn’t used to being worked with, these three steps could be a way to improve the situation

Ted Shanks became a horseman out of necessity. Now a farrier in Kauai, Hawaii, he grew up on a rural Tennessee farm where horses were just as much working animals as they were used for pleasure riding. After he began shoeing in 1977, the certified journeyman farrier and Anvil 21 member continued to work with horses, he never lost sight of the inherent danger of the job.

“Really, most of us are only one horse away from a career-ending injury,” says Shanks.

Those early years were filled with tough horses matched by misconceptions on how to work with them. Shanks credits famed horse trainer Denzel Cameron for teaching him ways to get reluctant horses to where he could work with them. During the 10 months he worked with Cameron, Shanks learned techniques that improved his overall horsemanship. Shanks now shares these lessons at clinics and in private lessons. He delivered a basic introduction of his methods for the attendees of the American Farrier’s Association annual convention in Reno, Nev., this past February.

Changing Behavior

Shanks says learning these techniques can help any farrier, but will prove especially beneficial to those who are starting out or don’t work among a large horse population, and typically encounter these horses. Certainly there are dangerous situations that should be completely avoided, but many farriers feel they can’t drop horses due to financial circumstances. Whether you agree with that philosophy, Shanks sees his method as a way to refocus the horse.

“It’s not about teaching…

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Jeremy McGovern

Jeremy McGovern has been a journalist for nearly 20 years. He has been a member of the American Farriers Journal staff for 7 years and serves as the Executive Editor/Publisher. A native of Indiana, he also is a member of the board of directors for the American Horse Publications organization of equine media.

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