When Chino Valley, Ariz., farrier Shaun Woodsum started shoeing horses more than 30 years ago, it seemed like a good way to pay for his college education. His father Bob James was a horseshoer and the aspiring heavy equipment operator was acquainted with the profession — he knew it would offer a flexible schedule to earn a living and pursue a degree. Once he got a taste of the industry, however, Woodsum quickly changed course.
For more than 3 decades, the American Farrier’s Association (AFA) has been sending a group of the country’s top farriers to horseshoeing competitions across the continent and beyond. This year has been an unprecedented break from tradition, as COVID-19 concerns curtailed many public events including farrier clinics and contests.
The life of a farrier is not for everyone, and the knowledgeable hoof-care practitioners who appear on the pages of this 12th edition of the American Farriers Journal’s “Getting Stared in Hoof Care” don’t sugarcoat the challenges that someone who chooses this profession is likely to face.
Hall of Fame farrier Dave Farley was working for the large animal hospital at Ohio State University when he first realized the profound impact that point of view can have on evaluating the equine limb.
“One of the tools we had was a fluoroscope,” he says, noting that it had a fluorescent screen and was used for viewing X-ray images without taking or developing X-ray photographs.
Many farriers have a tried-and-tested method of working with microbial issues on a horse’s feet. But from time to time, a case might come along that is particularly stubborn — when nothing seems to work or it just keeps recurring, despite a hoof-care professional’s best efforts.
Foot infections are a common source of lameness in the horse. Understanding the causes of these infections and identifying their clinical signs are key to getting a horse back on the path toward health. Raul Bras, certified journeyman farrier and a veterinarian at Rood & Riddle in Lexington, Ky. discussed some of the different foot infections a hoof-care professional is likely to encounter, the importance of early identification and types of veterinary interventions that may be necessary at the Midwest Equine Podiatry Conference in Arlington, Wis.
Whether making shoes for your inventory or trying to improve for competition, practice and repetition are key. The more shoemaking you do, the higher your skill level will increase and the more efficient you will be at fitting shoes, says International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame farrier Billy Crothers.
Farriers have a variety of shoeing options to consider when providing mechanical support to an acutely lame horse. Depending on the horse’s specific circumstances and the farrier’s particular skill set, a hand-forged heart-bar shoe or modified keg shoe may offer a solution. Ohio certified journeyman farrier and equine veterinarian Adam Pendleton has found open toe heart-bar shoes can be a useful application in certain cases.
Campbell, Texas, farrier and American Farriers Team member Sawyer Spradling demonstrates his approach to tuning a distorted pritchel to a punch, a skill that has served him well when he travels to clinics and competitions.
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