PREPARING FOR AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOUR BLACKSMITH

Just as most horsemen are very busy with details and chores associated with having horses, blacksmiths experience the same hectic schedule. Part of their job involves a considerable amount of time traveling from client to client. This will usually put them on a tight schedule. Having a professional and friendly relationship with your blacksmith is important as well as making sure that everything runs smoothly during that appointment.
Knowing the day and time for the appointment with your blacksmith, you should have everything in order. Horses should be brought in, preferably standing and waiting in a stall or in paddocks that have a very close proximity to the area where the blacksmith will be working. Giving your horse a bath right before your blacksmith arrives may not be a good idea but getting most of the dirt and/or mud off of the horse with a good brushing is a good idea. Pick out your horses’ feet and clean off any excess mud around the outside of the hoof and ankle if necessary. Take a good look at each foot as you are picking and cleaning them, keeping in mind any concerns that you may want to ask questions about or discuss a particular issue with your blacksmith.
Be sure to keep your blacksmith aware of your type of discipline, how much schooling and showing is taking place on a daily basis as this will set the precedence for the type of shoeing that is necessary. If your horse has some bad habits that involve issues with the shoes, he should be aware so he can shoe accordingly to accommodate the problem. Of course, if there is a minimal amount of riding, shoes may not even be necessary. Blacksmiths are open to questions and usually have a great story that goes along with some of the answers.
If the weather is warm enough for flies to be out and about, make sure your horses have been sprayed with fly spray and have a strong fan blowing on the horse that is being shod or trimmed. Having a fly deterrent in the hand of the horse holder is very helpful in keeping your horse quiet. This could be a rub rag, held on one corner and hanging down and can be gently tossled onto the horses’ legs or back or wherever the flies are landing. Another good fly chaser is a long stick with a horses tail attached.
Having quick and easy access to each horse is important in helping things run smoothly. Waiting until the blacksmith pulls up to your barn and going all the way out into the field to catch your horse while the blacksmith is waiting is not a good idea. This may put him behind schedule. After your horse has been shod or trimmed, put that horse back into their stall or paddock and get the next horse out to the blacksmith. If he wants to take a break, he will let you know. Usually they are there to do their job and are anxious to move onto the next horse quickly. Be respectful of his time frame and make things as easy as possible for him as this will most likely insure an increase in his desire to return. There will be times that your blacksmith will have to return because of a twisted or lost shoe and his quick response may be imperative, so, if he knows that when he makes a stop at your barn, that you will be there, be organized and his time there will be short and sweet and be off to his next appointment, he will not mind and will be prompt.
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