What is the Role of The Modern Day Farrier?
Man first started using the horse to carry loads and himself well before the birth of Christ. They then realised that a metal rim had to be fitted to the horse's feet to prevent them from wearing away.
This was the start of the art of Farriery, and the rim of metal is now known as a metal horseshoe.
The horseshoe was fitted to the foot due to the wearing away of the hoof capsule, and it became apparent that the horse could not complete the task that man had set for it and remain sound without the shoe.
Over the years, the art of blacksmithing/farriery (working metal) has not changed much, but the science of Farriery has. We now have a better understanding of hoof anatomy, the function of the foot and the influence the foot has on the upper body.
Let's look at where Farriery is heading today and in the future.
If the horse were left in its natural environment, it would not need its feet trimmed or shod, and all of us old farriers would have no back problems.
But as humans, we want to control our horses and do more with them than they are designed for.
To most owners' credit, they look after their horses better than they look after themselves.
Because we give them food and water along with improved pastures to walk on, they do not travel distances over all types of terranes looking for food and water.
This means that they do not naturally trim their own feet. So, the farrier comes to reduce the excess growth and return the natural balance to the feet.
But what happens when we do not get the hoof balance correct?
A horse with a slight imbalance and not asked to do anything but walk around and eat his days away will usually cope without any problems.
If you take that same horse and ask it to carry you and perform faster and longer than he would normally, he will start to break down sooner than later.
So now, how come when I have asked more of my horse, it cannot cope, and everything my farrier and I try to do does not work?
Most farriers are trained in the art of trimming and producing shoes to be fitted to your horse; this is why we see people in the industry called farriers and blacksmiths.
These days I believe the farrier needs to know more about the science of podiatry to be better equipped to understand the effects trimming or shoeing can have on the complete muscular-skeletal system, neurological and vascular systems of the horse.
This is where the farriery industry is letting itself down; it is too concentrated on the art of blacksmithing (making shoes) and not enough on the effects of applying their trade on the horse.
Today farriers need to study and understand the horse's biomechanics, not just the foot.
They should better understand their effect on the horse's upper body system to understand how they trim the foot.
Trimming the foot is the most important thing you can do to affect the horse's complete movement and stay apparatus.
You will never have a healthy foot if you do not trim to achieve the correct orthopaedic balance.
Today's farriers need to keep up with the changing knowledge of hoof anatomy, the function of the foot and the influence the foot has on the upper body.
This is why farriers should complete more training on trimming to achieve a better orthopaedically balanced horse and reduce the podiatry and upper body problems that imbalance can cause.
To have our farriers trained this way, we would not see the problems in the horses we do today, and the specialist farrier would only be used on truly medical cases.