We must accept the fact when we trim and shoe that working with horses is dangerous. A 300-pound pony can cripple someone. A 1,000-pound horse can kill.
Horses typically are not inherently vicious, but they are imbued with instincts in which they can and do react to their environment, conditioning and stimuli.
Being a good horseman, first and foremost, is a necessity of being both a skillful and successful farrier. While many shoeing schools and mentors offer some safe horse handling and horse behavior training to students, it’s ultimately the student’s responsibility to further their education until they feel they can competently get around horses.
We farriers must also learn to say when enough is enough. It is OK to say no. Saying no can be the safest answer for everyone involved at times. When I was younger, I prided myself on the fact that I could get around any horse. There was no horse I couldn’t trim or shoe, even if it required the owner hiring me as a temporary trainer to subdue the wild beast.
I paid for it. I feel more foolish than prideful after suffering a bad ankle and Achilles tendon, several broken bones, a fractured pelvis and countless bruises, burns and scrapes.
I was young and cutting my teeth in the industry and I felt I had something to prove. I also felt I had this really valuable service — that I wouldn’t turn away a horse or owner. While I’m lucky enough that I…