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Gretavk

Farriers' Bad, Bad Business Skills

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There's a topic that I feel needs discussion. Farriers. Bad hoof care.

Originally, I would see a delayed hoof job and immediately think, "what a bad owner ... shame on them for making the horse suffer like this". Then, as I became an owner of two horses that lives way out in the country, I was made CLEARLY aware of an issue that could be leading to this: Farriers and the fact they have the business skills of a GNAT.

It seems it is not profitable for farriers to travel to do fewer than 5 horses, especially for trims. Well, the other problem is getting them to RETURN PHONE CALLS. Instead of being honest and telling me we are too far out and have too few horses to make it worth it ... they just set up appointments and then DON'T SHOW or DON'T CALL!!!! [bang Head] So, instead of allowing me to search around to call someone else or even trailer in for a piggyback appointment with someone elsebefore my horses' feet get long, I am left waiting for a farrier that has no intention of being there. And, I have lost time at work.

So, I am starting to wonder. Though there is no excuse for people allowing their horses' feet to start curling under/over or crack to pieces, I am beginning to see why some people way out in the country seem to have horses that don't get the best farrier care. And, it is NOT the owners' fault. If they are lucky enough to even get a return phone call from a farrier, it may not be a GOOD farrier. Just one that shows up. Then, you actually have a worse problem ...

So, I think it needs to be addressed. The trade is riddled with people that have no business skills, and it is the HORSES that are suffering! Why don't farriers do what vets do and charge zonal call fees???? In all honesty, that makes the most sense. And, if someone is not in your zone ... CALL THEM BACK TO TELL THEM. BE HONEST. Don't schedule an appointment and have no intention of showing. That's rude and means the owner has to search around for another farrier while the horses' feet grow longer and longer. It is really crappy.

I just thought I would bring this up. I am sick and tired of going through farrier after farrier due to no fault of my own or my horses. I have been nothing but great to my farriers. I pay them in full on time and I don't complain needlessly. My horses are great for farriers and vets ... so that's not it either.

I think horse owners need to start standing up against these horrible practices and start saying something. Then, maybe one bright lightbulb in the bunch will come up with a system that WORKS for both the farrier and the owner. He will be the pioneer and wind up with some very, very happy clients. Not everybody can afford boarding at large facilities, nor does everybody WANT to. So, there are going to be people with small farms and 1 or 2 horses that need care. It's inevitable.

But, for now ... we private horse owners are stuck with what we've got. It's like being punished for living in the country, not boarding or not having way too many horses (which is a whole other issue).

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I'm starting to think that may be the best way to manage this problem. Worth the knowledge. At least it's good to know I am not alone. At the same rate, though, it is a bad thing that I am not alone because it means sooo many other people have to deal with this headache. And, the horses suffer ... ugh ...

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Frieslove - I see this in many areas of the horse industry. We've had numerous hay customers call and set up times to meet and never show (quite annoying since we don't live on our farm). Same with the lessons I used to give many, many years ago. The more I think about it I don't think its farriers in general or "horse people" I think its just people in general and bad business practices or bad manners. We notice it more with farriers because it's a common 5-8 week service that everyone needs.

Agreed - it is very frustrating when it affects the care of our horses.

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Frieslove, I agree with you, been there lived that!! Farriers who dont want to make the trip for just a few horses but still set the appointment and dont show. Or just the ones that end up getting busy and dont show up and cant even bother to call and say, hey, I cant make it. We take time off work, get the horses cleaned up and ready and then sit there waiting and waiting. Or what about the horse that throws a shoe...if the farrier put it on, they should find a way to get back out asap to put it back on. But no, I can make it out in 2 weeks...thats nuts! Obviously the owner had the horse shod because they plan to use it, not let it sit in the pasture for 2 week waiting on a shoe!! Uggh, super frustrating!! I trim a very few friends horses, I very rarely cancel. Why...because I didnt like all the years of it being done to me.

Oh, and also, we do have one local farrier that actually does charge a barn call like our vets. He charges $25 as soon as he walks on the property if its 1 horse or 10, just a flat fee of $25 and then of course each individual trimming. So if he travels for only 1, his gas is paid, if he travels for 10 his gas is paid.

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WhiteHorseAcres - You make a really excellent point: That because we see them every 6-8 weeks, it is more noticeable when things go batty. I hadn't thought of that, but it makes a lot of sense.

However, think of what would happen if the VET didn't show up when he/she had an appointment/emergency. Maybe the thing is they would have more serious repercussions on their reputations. A farrier doesn't necessarily HAVE to show up in order to save a life. However, if you really think about it ... bad hoof care could lead to navicular or founder or white line disease or .... certain things that end a horse's career forever and could result in his having to be put down. So, in a way, it is important that he show up ...

Zinge - You also make a good point. If you have a horse that throws a shoe, waiting 2 weeks for refitting can be a bit much as the hoof may fall apart before the farrier gets there ... especially if your horse has a very soft/bad foot. I suppose if I ever became a farrier, I would do the same as you. I would remember what it was like to be treated poorly and not want to do my business the same way.

I know horse people can be cantankerous, but, really, what logical person is going to blow up at someone for being honest and saying, "I don't go out that far" or "I'm so sorry I couldn't make it today ... my truck broke down/I had to watch the kids/I have the flu." Seriously. They can just be honest with us. It would be better than just standing us up.

Edited by Frieslove

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devils advocate -

it goes both ways.......

horse owners ALSO need to pay their Farrier bills (not with checks that bounce either, with real money) and train their horses to be "good citizens" for the farrier.

I dont call them back if:

1. they dont pay me

2. they refuse to "train" fluffy-wuffy

back surgery is just not worth the $35 trim (plus the loss of work while Im laid up in the hospital)... I know this for a fact....

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I agree, jumpin. It'd definitely a two way street here.

I've all but given up working for outside clients...save for a couple longer term ones now. I didn't have a big problem being paid... I wouldn't have taken checks to begin with... but apparently MY idea of well behaved and trained is EXTREMELY different than 99% of the rest of the horse owners that'd contact me. I don't mind having some patience and dealing with the small, usual issues in horse handling... but after I don't know HOW many "perfectly trained and well behaved" horses, described by their owners, cow kicked at me-- among other things-- yeah, I'd say our definitions vary GREATLY.

Of course, I don't pretend to schedule another appt or agree to trim their horse any more, either... in fact, in some cases, I didn't even FINISH the initial trim. SO not worth it... physically or financially.

There are a fair share of farriers in this area that are completely unreliable.

Mostly, they're just completely incompetent. It's impossible to get into the client list of the very, very few good ones.

Definitely the biggest motivator for learning to trim my own...

I really wanted to help others out, too... but like I said... I just won't work on poorly behaved horses, or for owners that can't properly train and handle their horses... so, I mostly just DON'T now! AND, that was in my relatively small pool of clients... nothing compared to the numbers that an average farrier carries-- I don't even WANT to know what else they may have to deal with. NO THANKS! lol

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It's just as bad over here on the other side of the pond. This is also why we do it ourselves now. Although we still have to improve our skills, all our horses are moving better and have better looking hooves than they've ever had before.

To resolve your immediate problem, what about calling around to local larger facilities and asking what farrier they use and if it might be possible for you to trailer your horses in and piggyback on their appointments?

We were willing to trailer our most problematic mare an hour and a half for trims (and would have paid the farrier for the drive otherwise and had all three done) only to get a callback a few weeks into trying to set something up that he was "no longer doing other peoples horses".

Then we have the guy who insisted shoeing was the only option on the mare, had seen the pasture conditions and poor hoof quality in advance, cancelled the appoitnment the day he was to shoe more than 2 hours after he was due (he had problems with the gas and HADNT MADE THE SHOE YET!), quicked her (pounded a nail in so it hurt) and both denied it and hit the mare for yanking her foot from him the day he finally did show... then as he left said "keep her out of the mud..." which he knew in advance was impossible in our situation. Shoes didn't hold 48 hours and he couldn't care less. He also charged an arm and a leg. I guess it was to make me pay for the 30-40 hoof nails that he threw haphazardly around the area where he worked, which he knew was our carport. He insisted on a covered area to work even when the sun was shining and the weather was gorgeous and htere was better light outside. If the weather were bad, it would make sense, but in great weather?

That guy was recommended by the farrier the vets recommended, who wasn't interested in new customers, even when we had 4 horses.

We had used someone else for a while, but he just wasn't good enough. Long toes and underrun heels and nothing done to control it. Not even telling us there was a problem...

No one else services our area. Most people around here either use the guy who didn't do it well enough, the guy who won't take new customers, or the jerk that is never coming near my horse again.

Except for a little while after the jerk, especially with that one back leg, my mare is VERY good for trimming and shoeing. She stands still, lifts her feet nicely, and doesn't shift her weight around.

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