Farriery is one industry that has a close relationship between the manufacturers and distributors of products and the end user. Farriers can easily find direct access to these businesses through shop visits, phone calls, emails, Facebook, clinics or events like the International Hoof-Care Summit.

This interaction is beneficial for the farrier, who receives introduction to the product, can ask questions, discuss issues with use and learn the best practices for use. The manufacturer or supplier benefit as well, as they not only help build a relationship with a customer, but sometimes get insight on product usage they never recognized, which they can then share with other customers.

Annually in April, American Farriers Journal features our annual shoeing showcase special issue. It features some of the products that farriers use — 242 highlighted in this issue. Also in it, there are articles that examine product knowledge, tools and application to equine footcare.

From these articles, there can be found an underlying point. No matter what the product is, this lesson is common: avoid “user error,” to borrow a term from the computing world. For instance, in his article on better selection of drill bits and taps, Massachusetts farrier Nick Denson explains that a broken tap might not be the result of a poorly-made product. Instead, the user may have selected the wrong type or size, resulting in the breakage.

Then there are products that have steps involved. When a product has a more complex use or can be applied in various ways limited to the creativity of the practitioner, Larkin Greene of Vettec offers this simple advice on making sure you use the product. This is especially true when competing products are under the same umbrella like “adhesives.”

“Follow all the directions — different manufacturers have different directions,” Greene warns. “Follow the manufacturer’s directions, ask those with experience, and things should work out.”

Obviously that helps with products that have a more complex use. So although the tools and products you use, like a driving hammer and nails, don’t come with instructions or guides for use, issue may arise.  Maybe the issue was user error, maybe not. Regardless, reach out to the manufacturer or distributor and get their insight on the problem. No matter what the cause, if it is a reputable product made by a trustworthy company, your inquiry will likely be addressed. The company may learn about an improvement needed or you may learn about better care or use of the product.