Vet Work, Farrier Work: Where Do You Draw The Line?

As part of last winter’s fifth annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, two veteran farriers tackled some of the most frequently asked questions about the footcare industry. For the second straight year, this “Point/Counterpoint” discussion proved to be one of the highlights of this annual mid-winter event.

This latest unrehearsed, fast-paced session sparked a number of viewpoints for Summit attendees to evaluate in their own hoof-care business. In this article, Rick Burten of Champaign, Ill., and Chris Gregory of Lamar, Mo., share critical views on the all-important relationship between farriers, equine veterinarians and horse owners.

Q: Where do I draw the line between farrier work and vet work? Do I dig out abscesses?

Burten: If I’m doing the normal trimming of a foot on a lame horse and what turns out to be an abscess springs a leak, I’ll work on it. But I don’t go digging for abscesses. I’m not an archeologist or a veterinarian, so I don’t want to excavate holes in the bottom of the horse’s foot.

Sometimes you may find that you are called in on a case after a vet or another farrier has left four holes in the foot and they still haven’t figured out why the animal is lame. There’s blood pumping out, so often times they simply pack and wrap up the hoof.

My role is not to do wet work. Since I’m not a veterinarian, I don’t diagnose. If I use hoof testers on a horse, I’m not diagnosing anything…

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