It’s not up to your farrier to train your horse. Put yourself for a moment in his position. Yes, he’s experienced (hopefully!) and he knows horses. But he’s bending down for much of the day, day after day, week after week, which very few of us could manage without discomfort. I know he chose the job he’s in, but that doesn’t make it any easier physically. If he gets pulled about by your horse and injured, that affects his business, especially if he has to take time off work. Not only would taking time off directly affect his income, which might then affect his ability to pay his mortgage or provide for his family, it would also affect the horse owners whose horses he’d been due to visit in that time. Those owners might miss important competitions, or a horse’s rehabilitation following injury might be delayed, and clients may be lost because they have to search for another farrier. There is no sick pay for the self employed, and they have to prioritise their own health and well being where possible. Is it any wonder that so many farrier’s get upset when the horse they are shoeing or trimming misbehaves?
So whilst I believe you should absolutely ask your farrier to help you in overcoming your horse’s fear of, or difficulty accepting, the farrier, it is your role to do the majority of the training, and to bring the farrier in at an appropriate time. Use some of the techniques discussed here, read and view around the subject, and practise, practise, practise. Many roads lead to Rome, as the saying goes, and in my opinion there is no right or wrong way to train a horse, as long as everyone stays safe (including the horse) and there is no violence involved. Some routes will get you there quicker than others, and the better your technique, timing, and use of reinforcement (positive and negative) is, the easier it will be for your horse to learn. We are all on a lifelong route to developing our horsemanship skills, and helping a horse to overcome fear of the farrier is as much a learning curve as any other aspect of horsemanship.
© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021
Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion