No farrier wants to have a tough client conversation about how rider error may be impacting a horse’s behavior. And when you have to be blunt and explain how rider error rider is the cause, it’s time to bring your “diplomatic skills” into play.

Palmer, Alaska, farrier Heidi Larrabee dealt with a stumbling situation involving a Tennessee Walker. It started when a client told Larrabee how her horse stumbled and dropped to its knees.

To overcome the concern, Larrabee made hoof angle adjustments, which the rider said made the problem worse. At the next shoeing, Larrabee shortened and rockered the front toes.

The lady called within the week and told Larrabee that she was really scared and wouldn’t ride the horse. When Larrabee revisited the barn, the Mom wasn’t there, but her daughter was. Having the daughter put the horse through its paces, there wasn’t a missed step in 10 minutes of intensive round pen work.

A few days later, Larrabee went back to watch the mother ride the horse. Within the first 10 feet of starting out, the horse fell to its knees. Yet, when Larrabee had the daughter ride the horse, it never stumbled or missed a beat.

The mother recognized she was the problem. After taking riding lessons and learning to relax, the horse started to move fine when ridden by the mother.

“Check everything you can because sometimes what we do is not what causes the problem,” says Larrabee. “The riding lessons helped the mother learn to relax. She and the horse are now riding the trails just fine.”

How do you handle situations in which a horse stumbles because of rider error? Share your thoughts and solutions in the comment section below.

For more tips, read “‘Diplomatic Skills’ Needed When Stumbling Is Due To Rider Error,” in the September/October 2017 issue of American Farriers Journal.