In the upcoming December issue of American Farriers Journal, I wrote about a conversation I had with Steve Kraus at the International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot. I won’t give a way too much detail from the magazine story, but the head of farrier services at Cornell University’s veterinary clinic explained how he sees too many cases of poor horseshoeing come into his shop.
The problem rests with having a “worker’s mentality, rather than that of a craftsman. According to Kraus, farriers who have burdened themselves with too many horses can easily fall into the worker mentality, without realizing it. Their horses fall into the production mode, corners are cut just to get as much done as quickly as possible. Examples range from the wrong shoe, poorly trimmed foot and ill-fitted shoe, among other problems.
It isn’t only the horses that suffer due to the worker mentality, according to Kraus. This also negatively impacts the farriery trade.
For example, cases of incorrect or improper shoeing provide ammunition to barefoot evangelists. They often will jump on these cases and cry that this is what happens when a shoe is applied to a horse’s foot. They ignore the evidence that it is the practitioner’s fault, but instead damn the entire methodology. Individual cases become amalgamated into a trade-wide problem and farriers who shoe are damned. So the understanding that “not all horses need shoes” becomes perverted to “no horses should wear shoes.”
If the temptation exists to take on more horses, make sure it won’t result in too many added to your book. If you can’t provide quality footcare for each one, you could endanger their horses, cheat the client and damage outside perception of the farrier trade.