A farrier is a professional that takes care of horses’ feet. More specifically, they shoe, file, clean, and perform other necessary work on horse legs. It also refers to a type of blacksmiths that specialise in tools and equipment specifically made for horses and horse riding. They are an essential part of equine care, and almost all horse breeders, keepers, and riders employ a farrier to take care of their horses.
What do they do?
Horses are animals that are kept and bred specifically for riding, racing, or carrying weight. This naturally means that their feet should be well cared for. Horses’ feet require constant maintenance to remain healthy. The shape, grove, and incline of the hoof can change due to growth of the dead skin cells that form the hoof. Therefore, the hood should be files and shoed to increase the traction on the floor, and horseshoes are regularly replaced. The equipment used for this purpose are known as farrier tools and may include horseshoes, files, nails, and knives.
Hooves also accumulate dirt and debris as they horse walks through the land and may be damaged or crack due to the impact. Farriers clean the hooves as well as patch and mend the cracks to prevent infection and injury which can permanently harm a horse. They also check for horseshow wear and replace them if necessary.
Farriers are also trained to work with horses themselves, instead of just equipping their hooves or providing the keepers with the tools and equipment. Horses are nervous animals and generally do not appreciate the attention of someone they are not familiar with. Some horses bite, kick, or are otherwise skittish when it comes to getting their hooves worked on. Farriers are trained to respond to these kinds of events and perform their services without harming the horse despite it not being cooperative. They are also trained to recognise medical needs of the horse which may be out of their expertise to treat and can recommend the owner of the horse seek out medical services in time.
Why are they needed?
Since horses exist in the wild, and the fact that these horses do not have access to the services of a farrier, one might wonder if a farrier’s service is actually necessary for the health or survival of a horse. The answer is that horses are notoriously fragile animals. In a wild horse heard, a substantial number might die off due to minor injuries such as sprains that can be treated. A certain portion of a wild horse heard dying off every year is generally not a cause of concern for a heard of wild animals, but for a farmer or keeper it is a significant financial loss. Therefore, they employ farriers to ensure that their horses are healthy. Similarly, wild horses, who run much more frequently than a domesticated horse, have their hooves weather naturally as they grow which eliminates the need for a farrier to clean or trim them.