At the 2017 International Hoof-Care Summit, Mike Wildenstein posed the question, “Are you considering more than the feet when you trim and shoe,” and it is loaded! How are we looking at the horse and are we considering everything affecting and impacting the horse? Wildenstein opened with reminding us just how old “hoof care” is and how the lack of horseshoes affected armies of old (Alexander the Great and others), as well as how armies would have to take breaks in their campaigns to let hooves grow out so they could continue. He also reminded us, just like days of old, how environments affect horses and hooves.
His main point was — are we really looking at everything in that horse’s world and how it affects our shoeing? Does it affect what shoe we use or how we apply it? This was just the beginning of things that Wildenstein wants us as farriers to look at and consider before we lift a hoof to work on. Do you take time to look at the horse and have a conversation with it — not in words per sé, but in everything the horse has to tell us before we start? Do you take time to examine the horse’s overall build, condition and look? Did you get to see the horse walk, move or turn around? Did you talk with the owner or caretaker to get a little more understanding of how the horse has been eating and doing? Do we know the owner? What type of person is he or she? What kind of riding do they do? Are they riding every day or is it just a couple times a week? What is the level of riding and what does the rider want to achieve?
Understanding the horse is very important, but understanding the rider, their experience and what is trying to be achieved is equally as important. If we as farriers fail to take time to know and understand all facets of the horse’s life, the owner and environment, then we will not have a full understanding of the needs of the horse. The most important horse you will work on is the one in front of you. That owner doesn’t care where you are going or where you have been, their horse is most important. If we as farriers fail to take the time to understand, observe and check out all the variables affecting the horse, then how can we properly service the horse?