A few weeks ago, I spent part of a day with Clint McCandless, a young farrier from Butler, Pa., while he was shoeing backyard horses.

Like most farriers, McCandless emphasizes the importance of regularly scheduled hoof-care appointments to his clients. For the most part, the message gets through. He sees the vast majority of horses on a 5- or 6-week schedule.

12 Weeks Worth Of Problems

But there are exceptions. He mentioned that one of the horses we saw that day had last been trimmed 12 weeks earlier. This particular horse had far from ideal feet to begin with, and the lengthy interval between appointments added that much more time for flares, long toes, dishes and hairline problems to manifest themselves.

McCandless tries to explain to all of his clients why he insists on regular hoof care, but it doesn’t always take.

“They want the feet to look pretty and to look nice,” he says. “But some of them don’t understand the importance of scheduling in making that happen — and more importantly, they don’t understand the importance of regular appointments in keeping feet functioning the way they should.”

Consensus Of Farrier Opinion

A couple of days ago, I was going through some files and came across a sheet that Pat Burton had given me after he had moderated a Hoof-Care Roundtable at the 2011 International Hoof-Care Summit. The subject of the discussion led by the Burleson, Texas. farrier was “Promoting Growth And Healthy Hoof Horn.” Guess what the Roundtable members concurred was the key factor?

“Keep the foot working properly. When the foot functions properly, the hoof horn and all parts of the foot are healthy as well.”

Not surprisingly, the group concluded that an important part of keeping the foot functioning properly was, “Regular hoof-care maintenance by a professional on a 4- to 8- week schedule.”

The Roundtable members agreed there were other important factors as well, including regular exercise, adequate nutrition providing essential elements and supplements when needed and a clean and healthy environment. They also recognized that there will be horses that are genetically predisposed to have poor horn quality.

Stress That Link

But Burton’s group, like McCandless, emphasized the importance of trying to get clients to recognize that vital link between regular hoof care and a properly functioning, healthy foot. They emphasized the importance of not only educating clients, but also empowering them by referring them to books, materials, websites and products that help them better understand the importance of hoof care.

If you have trouble keeping clients on schedule, consider emphasizing that regular-schedule-to-proper-function link. I suspect that the vast majority of horse owners who don’t keep their horses on schedule do so due to ignorance, inconvenience or cash flow problems. Getting them to understand that delaying hoof care can have potentially serious consequences for their horse’s feet may convince them to put the same priority on scheduling as you do.