A news story from earlier this month reminds that there are safer professions than that of a farrier.

While working at a south-central Virginia farm, farrier Owen Moon was injured by a guard donkey he was trimming. From the Southside Messenger:

Moon was working on the last foot the rope holding the donkey’s head came untied. The donkey ducked his head and bit Moon on the calf of his right leg, lifting him into the air, shaking him and carrying him across the corral…

The Charlotte County Volunteer Rescue Squad responded to the scene and found Moon with a severe bite and a broken right fibula. He was transported to Centra Southside Community Hospital and then on to Lynchburg General for his injuries. At Lynchburg General it was found he had a collapsed blood vessel in the leg and would have lost his foot without immediate surgery. Moon remains hospitalized but is expected to make a full recovery. He plans to continue working with horses.

Looking at this situation, this is a case of how quickly things can turn from good to bad when working with equids. There isn't enough to this story to say what could have been done differently, other than more attention given to securing the donkey. Sometimes the warning signs are apparent, say from a horse that definitely doesn't want its feet worked on. Other times, there is no warning, like a quick reaction from a better-behaved horse spooked by a noise or barn action.

A scenario like the former is all too common among farriers with lesser experience. And as many elder farriers are finding, too many among the new crop haven’t had the horsemanship experience prior to becoming a farrier. Combine a dangerous animal and poor horsemanship, and you have a recipe for disaster.

For many young farriers, clients can be scarce. For these farriers, dropping a client who won’t properly train a horse for the farrier (or pay for tranquilizing the animal during the farrier’s visit) isn’t an easy financial or recognizable decision. Unfortunately the decision that should have been made is crystal clear when the farrier is unable to work due to injury inflicted by a horse. Just walk away from those horses and inattentive owners.