They say the hoof makes the horse. Never does that ring more true than when you’re struggling with hoof issues with your horse. That’s when you really know how valuable a good farrier is. Have you thanked your farrier lately?
The second week of July is National Farriers Week. This week encourages horse owners, riders, trainers and anyone who needs a farrier to say thank you to their equine hoof care specialists. The motto of the United States Postal Service may be “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” but as most of us know, this also serves true of our farriers. These skilled craftsmen and women (and we definitely view good farrier work as a craft), spend hours trimming and balancing horses’ hooves, shaping shoes, sometimes forging shoes and generally doing all the various things our horses need in all sorts of weather. They put up with our poorly trained and impatient horses. They wreak havoc on their bodies for the sake of our horses’ comfort, health and well-being.
Perhaps farriers’ motto should be “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor rankest horse stays these farriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Knowing what our farriers sacrifice for us and how much what they do impacts the well-being of our horses, its time to ask yourself, have you thanked your farrier lately?
If, like the rest of us, the answer to that question is no, here are seven ideas to help you show your gratitude:
1. A cup of coffee or a nice cold drink. Our farriers work no matter the weather. When it’s cold, they’re still bending over our horses’ feet doing their work. When it’s hot, they’re still bending over our horses’ feet doing their work. Making our farriers more comfortable and quenching their thirst is the least we can do. So find out what they like to drink and have it ready for them when they get to your barn.
2. Gift cards. This may seem trite and not overly creative, but this is a sure-fire way to get your farrier something he or she wants. If you know your farrier likes to stop at a certain cafe or restaurant in between appointments, get him/her a gift card for that business. And you know what farriers always need? Gas. That’s right. Their job involves a lot of travel. How else do they make it to your barn the day before a show to reset your horse’s thrown shoe? They fill up their gas tanks and head your way. Why not relieve some of that burden by getting your farrier a gas gift card? Along those same lines, a certificate for a truck wash might also be appreciated — bonus points if it includes an interior detail. Farriers live in their vehicles, so they likely will appreciate having some attention paid to them.
3. Cold hard cash. Let’s get real. Gift cards are nice. So is a tasty beverage. But what do most of us want? Cash. Now, I’m not saying that you hand your farrier a wad of sweaty bills with a mumbled “thank you” (although they probably won’t turn that down), but adding a little extra to your payment certainly wouldn’t be unappreciated. Tips are always welcome, and they’re a great way to show your gratitude for excellent service. If I know my horse has been especially difficult or that my farrier has gone out of his way to get to my barn to get me back in the ring, I always make sure to add in a tip. I want my farrier to know that I value his time and willingness to work with me.
4. Therapy products. You know how we wrap our horses in massage/magnetic/ceramic/whatever products to keep them performance ready and feeling their best? Our farriers would likely benefit from some of the same treatment. After all, think of the hours they spend bent over our horses’ feet, destroying their lower backs. If you’ve ever had to rasp your own horse’s feet or pull a shoe, you know how hard it is on your body (every time I have to do it, I swear farriers don’t make enough money). So just imagine how it must feel day after day, horse after horse. Something that offers a little extra support and has some healing properties wouldn’t be uncalled for. Something like the Back on Track Back Brace comes to mind, but the options are pretty endless.
5. Baked goods. This isn’t something I would necessarily get my farrier because, coming from me, baked goods would be more like a punishment. But for those who are gifted in the kitchen, homemade baked goods usually are appreciated.
6. A safe working environment. This is one of those things you should be doing as a matter of course and not simply as part of National Farriers week, but a clean, safe, level work environment really is a must. Some sort of shelter to keep them out of the elements is also helpful. This allows farriers to get their work done quickly and, more importantly, with as little risk as possible
7. Prompt payment. Like a safe working environment, this is one of things that should happen all the time — no matter what week it is. Paying your farrier before or at the time of service is essential. The fastest way to get your farrier to drop you or make you and your horse the lowest priority is to withhold payment. So, don’t be that person. Pay your farrier on time. Keep them happy. Keep your horses happy.
Do you have other ideas? Let us know.
Go thank your farrier and go riding!