Show Horses

One of the many maxims of farriery is to never criticize the work of another farrier because you don’t know what he or she was facing when they were working with the horse. This should be practiced at the various levels and settings found in this trade. Ontario farrier Dave Dawson reminds that it isn’t only important in the barns, but also at horse shows.

I recently spoke with Dawson about his experience as a farrier working at horse shows. This will be part of an upcoming article in the AFJ magazine about being the official farrier at horse shows. Dawson, who shoes in Ontario and Florida, has plenty of experience working horse shows, including as the official show farrier.

To become the official show farrier for any discipline, it takes years to develop the reputation as a trustworthy and skilled practitioner. One area often overlooked is an element of professionalism while at the show. It is a trait often forgotten about in circumstances.

Dawson says the mistake show farriers can make is to criticize another farrier’s work to the horse owner when you have to tack on a shoe during or after a class. This may be a horse show example, but I think it applies to most footcare client situations.

What does knocking another shoer’s work get the offender? By being trusted with the responsibility of hoof care at the show, they are recognized as an established and proficient farrier. It adds nothing to your reputation and could damage it among other farriers. Also, the criticism only erodes the owner’s confidence in their shoer.

Dawson reminds that isn’t your place to judge because you don’t have all the facts. There are so many factors that come into play. For instance, a horse owner may not place hoof-care as a top priority. So appointments are stretched or cancelled to save a few bucks. Then the farrier is called in at the last minute as a miracle worker to prepare that horse for a show that weekend. You simply never know all of the circumstances involved. 

Instead of criticizing, here is Dawson’s advice for any official show farrier: nail the shoe back on (if you have enough foot to attach it), wish the owner luck and keep any other comments to yourself. In this case, a closed mouth makes you a better professional. Not to mention that you won’t get that angry phone call from a shoer demanding to know why you blasted his or her work.