Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Losing Shoes

The reasons horses pull shoes are innumerable, and - ultimately - it would take 24-hour surveillance to determine the causes for each incident; nevertheless, I'll address some of the more common concerns. First, I must say that I - and other farriers - can shoe virtually any horse so that he won't pull a shoe, but it will almost always be to the long-term detriment of the horse. Putting on shoes that are fit too short and too tight is never the answer.

Horses that live in wire enclosures without electrified wiring are prone to pawing at fences and hanging shoes. Because they don't find the shoe hanging in or near the fence, owners will often think this is not the case; however, the torque of hanging the shoe on the fence will often result in an imbalanced (slightly bent) shoe, which will then be prone to come off elsewhere. Horses that live in enclosures which are extremely rocky or littered will also often pull shoes as a result of stumbling or sharply altering their gait to avoid an obstacle.

Virtually all horses will overstep their front track with their hind. The trick is that they get their fronts out of the way before the hinds get there. As with people, some are more athletic than others, and you'll see them go for years at a time without stepping off a shoe; others will do so occasionally, and others seem to be terminally klutzy. Usually, minor adjustments (e.g., rebalancing, rolling or rockering front toes, squaring and/or setting back hinds, etc.) can be made in the shoeing process that will help to minimize this problem.

As a horse gets tired, he's more likely to step off a shoe.

Horses in training are much more likely to step off a shoe than those which are comfortable with a rider and a task. When you place a horse in a new situation, he's more likely to "scotch," stumble, or just generally be awkward and off balance; subsequently, he's more likely to pull a shoe.

Poor Riding/Multiple Riders/Harsh Riders
Horses must make adjustments and compensatory movements to accommodate riders. Until - and unless - they're adjusted to the rider on their back, they're more prone to pull shoes as they struggle for balance.

Shoeing Cycle
Some horses will get quite clumsy toward the end of their shoeing cycle, and it's not unusual to see horses pull shoes when it's close to time for a reset or new shoes. Shoes protect the hooves from abnormal or excessive wear; part and parcel of this, though, is that they don't allow the hoof to abrade and wear naturally. Subsequently, if they're left on too long, shoes can create real problems for horses.

Imbalanced Hooves
Occasionally, horses will pull shoes because the hoof and/or the shoe has not been properly balanced/leveled at the time of shoeing.

What to Do
If your horse should pull a shoe, your farrier will try to get there in a timely manner to replace it. Realize, however, that there's no way that s/he'll be able to charge you enough for this to be a profitable trip and that s/he'll probably try to work you into the schedule when s/he's working in your area. Until s/he arrives, you can do several things:

1. Find the shoe. If your farrier can reset the shoe, it'll likely be cheaper for you. Also, if s/he can see the shoe, the farrier may well be able to get a "read" on how it was pulled and make minor adjustments that might minimize the possibilities of it happening again.

2. Protect the hoof. In general, we shoe horses to protect their feet and to allow even wear of matched pairs; if a horse is shod on one side and not on the other, he's not going to wear evenly. Subsequently, anything you can do to minimize wear and breakage will be beneficial. Generally, this means keeping the hoof wrapped with duct tape, applying an "easy boot," and/or restricting access to rough terrain and excessive activity.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Reggie Kester

As 2008 came to a close, I lost a mentor and friend, leaving me with an empty, lost feeling but with fond memories of a solid friendship that spanned more than 30 years. Reggie was what all good mentors are: he was inspirational and genuine.

In the late 1970’s, he took extra time to help a wayward young man that he never quit calling “Rowdy.” In those days, I worked hard to live up to the name, and Reggie spent days working to keep me out of the Ardmore and Texoma jails, in horseshoeing school, and on task.

As the years passed, our relationship developed and changed. He went from seeing me as a wild, semi-talented kid to seeing me as one of his own that had “made good” and made him proud. I never quit thinking of him as my mentor and teacher.

Maybe anyone could have taught me the basics of farriery, but Reggie taught me to respect it, to share it, and never to take it for granted. Reggie and I didn’t sit on the phone and chat regularly or even often, but he was one of my best and greatest friends.

He was quiet, patient, and humble. Like a lot of others who learned from Reggie, I often felt that he knew it all, but what made him great was that he knew he didn’t.

There’s an empty spot in my heart, in Ardmore, in the AFA, and in the horseshoeing world. Reggie’s gone.

Danvers Child, AFA CJF, OSHS Grad ’78


As a rule, Americans tend to value independence. So, I suppose farriers must be great Americans, as you’d have to look long and hard to find a group that would qualify as being more independent. We’re the poster boys and girls for independence and non-conformism.

In fact, when you look at the individuals who make up the AFA, you can’t help but know that our association is great--because it’s made up of people who aren’t typically “joiners” and conformists. We’re a group, but we’re a grouping of people who are accustomed to setting their own rules, schedules, agendas, and priorities--people who are accustomed to working alone and doing things their own way.

Most things that can be viewed as a great strength are dual purpose and also qualify as a great weakness. So it is with our independence, which can cause us to be inflexible and argumentative. Sit down with a group of farriers, and you’ll hear stories about how clients were fired for x, how vets were ignored for y, and how trainers were argued with for z.

At times, all the braggadocio sounds pretty cool, and we applaud ourselves for sticking by our standards, for running our own businesses, and for refusing to compromise when it comes to how we go about our work. But it’s a thin line we walk, as we balance between refusing to compromise our standards and simply refusing to compromise.

My father used to talk about it as the difference between confidence and arrogance, and--as I embarked on my writing career, ghost-writing political speeches--he struggled to help me learn the difference between arguing and persuading. Persuasion, he said, was the language of self confidence, while argumentation was the language of self righteousness.

I’m still working and trying to get it right. But I know it’s important--in running my business, in conducting my life, and in making relationships and organizations work. Being a team player isn’t always easy. It demands humility, understanding, openness, and a general willingness to view the big picture. Let’s all aspire to be team players!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Certification RANT...

On my daily tour of Craig's List, I stumbled upon an ad for a "Certified, Professional Farrier." Following the link, I found that it took me to a website for a pair of farriers I had never heard of... despite the fact that they're working in my area. Hmmm... suspect... bells & whistles... not members of the American Farrier's Association, not members of the Indiana Farriers' Association....

So, who certified them, and how are they professionals if they're not affiliated with the professional organizations? Upon further reading on their site, I discovered that they were "certified" by the Oregon Farrier School. After checking that site, it appears that one can be a "certified professional farrier" after only 10 weeks of study. Had they stayed for another 4 weeks, they could have been "certified master farriers"!!

This kind of stuff really ticks me off, but I can understand a little bit... I remember when I first came out of farrier school. My first stop was a the local print shop, where I promptly got business cards, stating that I was "certified" by OSHS, that I was qualified to do "corrective" and "pathological" work, and that I was a highly qualified, genuine farrier. Of course, I didn't know jackshit, but it took several years of work for me to realize that I didn't know anything, and it took several humbling failures at a valid certification before I cracked down and became a lifelong student of this trade.

SO.... farrier certification is only as valid as the certifying organization. If someone tells you they're certified, they probably are, because there are dozens upon dozens of private schools and individuals who are certifying farriers each day. Caveat Emptor ... "Let the buyer beware" ...

I'm all for farrier certification--I earned mine through the American Farrier's Association and through the Guild of Professional Farriers.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Forums, Blogs, and such...

OMG.... The latest and greatest from the small but vocal group of dissenters on horseshoes.com is that the AFA is somehow behind the times and inadequate because the new AFA website doesn't incorporate a discussion forum, blog, or newsgroup for members and non-members.

I'm not an expert on internet forums, but I do have a modicum of experience with such beasts. I was on dial-up bulletin board systems as early as 1978, and I've been a participant/observer on web-based forums since 1996. Back in the days when I thought forums could be positive and productive, I was one of the earliest and most prolific contributors to horseshoes.com, and I only recently reached such a point of total disgust that I asked Baron Taylor to remove the old references to myself as their "Resident Farrier." Anyway, I feel that I've got a little knowledge as to how this works....

So, if the AFA is out of touch and archaic for not having a discussion forum, we're in good company. I've checked a number of equine-based breed and non-profit organizations, and I can't find a bunch of forums on their websites. The USET does not have one; the AAEP does not have one; the USDF does not have one; the AQHA does not have one, even the youngsters at the USPC don't have one.

Why could this be???!!! Why would all of these major associations not utilize public discussion forums?? Maybe because forums tend to be fraught with vitriol and negativity.... Maybe because they more effectively spread disinformation than information.... Maybe because they simply seem to attract and promote less than professional behavior.... Maybe because they're a great venue for spreading rumor and gossip.... Maybe because they're a magnet for those who are bullies (or aspire to be).... Maybe these associations don't want to be perceived as the National Enquirer of the equine community....

In any case, most of the forums I visit tend to provide the frequent posters an opportunity to ride their hobby horses, while denigrated and haranguing with those who have a different view or perspective. Some of those who engage in playing the devils' advocate and who choose argumentation as their preferred form of entertainment are honest about--e.g., Phil Armitage saying he likes to "stir the pot" or Rick Burten referring to his argumentative approach as "entertainment." But that doesn't make it better in my book.

The bottom line is that I've not visited a positive forum. Sure, when valid questions get presented, there's often a valid response offered... You simply have to be willing to wade through the mire of mud, feces, and personal attacks to look for it. Ultimately, I've got no faith in forums...

Hammer-In / Invitation

Now that we're moving into summer, I find that I actually have a few weekends at home. I'm scheduling one of those for a get-together, so mark off your calendar for a hammer-in on Saturday, July 26th. We'll get started around 10 or 10:30 and go until whenever.

I should have the paddock fence rebuilt by then... and the oak that took the fence down cut up into firewood (ugh). Pack yourself a noon lunch or snack, but don't worry about an evening meal; April and I will provide some sort of good cooking and beverages for the tee-totalers. Please give me a call if you're planning on coming, so I'll have an idea of how much to cook.

I've got a few extra forges and anvils if you don't want to bring your rig, but do bring your own hand tools. I can wreck my own punches enough without any help!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yes... I'm Alive

I've had so many irons in the fire that I somehow managed to forget that I had this blog. I was reminded of it when I saw that Andrew Elsbree, AFA President, had established one as well. If you've not checked his blog, do so! It's found at http://andrewelsbree.blogspot.com/

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Good Kid -- Good Season

Monday, June 12, 2006

Heeler Pups!!!

Right now they look more like Guinea Pigs than Heelers, Queensland Heelers, Australian Cattle Dogs, or whatever term you use for good dogs, but they're beginning to get their color and looking less and less like gelatinous blobs. I figure it will be about seven or eight weeks before they're ready to travel; by then, they will have had their puppy shots and a round or two of dewormer. There are seven of them--four males (3 red, 1 blue) and three females (2 red, 1 blue)--$80 each. Place your order now!

Update: 3 males & 1 female left... all reds. Ryan Clark reserved a blue female; Steve Sermersheim reserved a red female; Brian Beasley reserved a blue male.

photo credit: iHorseshoe