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Wrangling on the Range #155

10 questions to ask your Farrier


10   questions... to ask your farrier

Make your Paint's next shoer visit the best yet.

By Laura Stevens

Whether you're considering a new farrier or just want to catch up
with your current shoer, it's best to make sure everyone is on
the same page. APHA judge and farrier John Tabb of Greenbriar
Tennessee, offers talking points for your Paint's next farrier

1 "What are your rates?"

Before anyone begins working on your horse, you should have a
reasonable price estimate. It's also a good idea to check if your
current farrier's prices have changed. As Tabb explains, no horse
owner likes a surprise that could impact their budget. While
price differs depending on the amount and type of shoes, your
farrier should have a price list you can reference.
"People want to know what to expect for their money," he said.
"Price needs to be discussed. That way you won't get a big bill
and say 'I wasn't expecting that' or 'I can't afford that.'"

2 "What type of horses do you normally shoe?"

If you haven't used this farrier before, it's best to get an idea
of his specialty. While most farriers are diversified, some
choose to specialize in halter, performance or problem horses.
Finding out your farrier's preferred discipline is key to
ensuring he fits your horse's needs.

3 "What should I tell you about my horse?"

Even if you've used the same farrier for years, keep him or her
updated on your horse's activities. If your horse takes a winter
vacation, your farrier might choose to remove your horse's show
season footwear.

A new farrier will want to know how often you ride, the terrain
you ride on and your riding discipline of choice. A horse who
trail rides in rocky hills might have different needs than a
horse who competes in an arena.
"The first thing I ask is 'What do you do with this horse?' or
'What are you planning on doing with this horse?'" Tabb said.

4 "Do I need to be present while you work?"

This is a preference that differs among horseshoers.
While some might be fine scheduling your horse's appointent
during the work day, others prefer you hold your horse while they
"Most of the time, I like for someone to be there," Tabb said.
"If I get hurt, there's somebody there to help me out. If the
horse gets hurt, then the owner can help out."
Of course, your farrier might make an exception if your horse is
"It's OK if it's a horse that I know is pretty quiet, and I know
I'll have no trouble with," Tabb said.

5 "What manners should my horse have?"

If your horse is young or unfamiliar with being shod, Tabb
suggests you instill basic manners before he visits. Even young
horses should be able to stand still and pick up their feet, he
stresses. Shoeing horses is a physically demanding job, and a
polite horse will make it easier work for your farrier.
"I know it's hard with babies, but it's not my job as a farrier
to come in there and get your horse broke," he said.

6 "What sort of shoeing do you suggest for my horse?"

Every horse has different shoeing needs, and your prospective
farrier should first track your horse to determine those needs.
While various disciplines might have shoeing requirements, Tabbs
maintains that correct, balanced shoeing will never be out of
"style." Be sure to ask questions if you need a point clarified.
"What can 1 do to help my horse's feet?"
You're well acquainted with the adage "no hoof, no horse" if your
horse's shoeing has ever kept you from riding. Ask your farrier
for suggestions on keeping your equine companion's toes in
tip-top shape. Tabb avoids endorsing particular hoof dressings or
supplements, but he encourages his clients to avoid blacking
their horses' hooves as much as possible because hoof polish
dries out horses' feet. Your farrier should have tips specific to
your horse's needs.

(I use the stuff that's been around for decades, and it's like
dark brown petroleum jelly - will not dry out your horses feet.
Once a week application is all that should be needed on sound
hoofs - Keith Hunt)

8 "How can I pay you?"

Ask your farrier how he prefers payment: in advance or payable
via an invoice. Tabb runs his farrier service as a business and
expects prompt payment as a courtesy.
"Think of it just like a job. You'd rather get your check the day
you're supposed to be paid," he said. "I hate to have to call
you, but sometimes that's just part of the business."

9 "How do we schedule my next visit?" 

While some barns track farrier appointments and others have a set
schedule, Tabb prefers clients to call to set up a date and time.
He often travels for horse shows and doesn't want any
miscommunication with his clients. Your horse might need shoeing
more or less often than the average horse, and calling gives Tabb
the necessary flexibility.

10 "Can I recommend you to a friend?" 

If you appreciate your farrier's hard work, ask him if you can
recommend him to a friend. In Tabb's 40-plus years of shoeing,
the majority of his clients found him through word-of-mouth, not
advertising. However, other obligations might limit the number of
new clients a farrier can accommodate, so it's always best to
check with your farrier first before spreading the word.

Laura Stevens is staff writer/photographer of the Paint Horse
Connection. To comment on this article, email

Meet John Tabb
APHA judge John Tabb of Greenbriar, Tennessee, has been an active
horseman since his youth. He is a longtime farrier, exhibitor,
announcer, ring steward and judge with cards from APHA, AQHA,

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