Recognize Subtle Signs of Horse Discomfort

Your ability to better identify and address what could be causing discomfort with a horse will aid in educating the novice horse owner

Horse owners have all types of backgrounds and motivations for owning horses. Some have vast experience while others have next to none. While working with this variety of clients, farriers must know how to handle and advise each one individually. Educated owners will be able to recognize subtle signs of discomfort. However, today there are many clients who lack that familiarity and knowledge.

The inexperienced horse owner makes the decision after being counseled on the available options. It can be frustrating for the farrier after explaining the symptoms of the horse’s discomfort and what type of treatment could be helpful, only to have the owner ignores the educated description of the symptoms, cause and recommended treatment plan. That frustration escalates because, based on your past experiences, the treatment likely would benefit the horse.

When A Case Needs To Be Treated By A Vet

It doesn’t help, especially for the comfort of the horse, if the farrier refuses to call for backup when the need arises. Ask yourself, “Is this more than I can handle myself pertaining to a horse’s welfare?”

This is why it important to have a good working relationship with your local veterinarians. Farriers often are the first on the scene because we normally see the horse more often than a veterinarian. Sometimes the owner will ask if the situation requires a veterinarian’s attention. If you recognize subtle signs of a horse’s discomfort, you should advise the horse owner of these conditions and know when it goes beyond…

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Jacob Butler CJF, AWCF

Jacob Butler is a certified journeyman farrier and an associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. He is the Director and an instructor at Butler Professional Farrier School LLC, located near Chadron, Neb. For more information, visit his website, call (308) 665-1510 or email at

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