There’s an old saying that time heals all wounds. It is overstated, but it certainly applies to equine athletes. Although not true in every case, many horses recover from a myriad of foot and lower limb problems if given ample time off from training and competition so they can recover. That’s a wonderful thought, but a luxury few track shoers enjoy.
Georgetown, Ky., farrier Steve Norman knows that reality all too well. For more than 45 years, he’s handled footcare for Thoroughbreds on the track and at farms. He’s built a practice to where he now primarily works for larger barns and farms.
There are advantages to working for bigger operations, including the care for the horse. As Norman explains, they have every therapeutic device available to rehab a horse, including oxygen chambers, pools with aqua-tread, recessed vibration pads and so on. However, there is one critical part of therapy missing.
“All kinds of gadgets exist, but no one ever talks about time off,” he notes. “They just never give them enough time to rehab.”
With the demands from trainers that a horse stay working, Norman must call upon his skill, knowledge and tools that he’s gained to keep the horses going. And there are plenty of them to work with. He’ll work with not just racehorses, but also foals, yearlings and broodmares. Generally, it is a high volume of horses, which climbs higher in April and May, as he gets horses ready for the races.