Category Archives: Farriers



I have never believed in expending more energy as a farrier than I absolutely have to, and this came home to me at a recent course where I had a young farrier attending one of my advanced courses over five days. The self-taught farrier knew he was working too hard and wanted to refine and improve his methods. For a career farrier, it is important to be able to increase workload and at the same time to conserve energy wherever possible without taking shortcuts; also to keep the body fit and healthy, particularly the back, and to challenge the mind so that burnout and complacency don’t finish the career prematurely. I believe that it’s OK to be lazy if it benefits the farrier, but only if it also benefits the horse. The first morning the young farrier was scratching his head saying ‘How do you manage this at your age?’ But by the first afternoon he was already finding it easier. This farrier was going through four rasps a week – I blunt one a month. Plus he had a fine rasp, a heavy rasp, a dull rasp and a half way dull … Continue Reading ››


Recent changes to the Australian consumer laws may very well be the catalyst for change in the trade of farriery. The new laws give the horse owner legal redress for substandard work carried out by the farrier and has far reaching impacts on our profession.

In this country as in many others, any person with even limited knowledge is allowed to provide hoof care to horses; there are no laws to prevent them doing so even when their efforts result in lameness to the horse; as a result many owners have gone for months or even years before finding a true tradesman to get satisfaction, with no redress for loss of costs.

Doubtless many people in the industry of providing hoof care will be concerned by these new laws, however we should be welcoming it as an opportunity to change. Starting from the top, farriery must be recognised as a skilled trade and profession by the Government.

It may be a … Continue Reading ››


As farriers, we have let the horses and the horse world down. With information technology on tap, we are still not getting it right. The over abundance of horses with long toes – low heels, flares, contracted heels and Seedy Toe are ample evidence that things are not right, and that farriers are not correcting these simple problems. And I am not just talking about Australia, as these problems are world-wide.

The reason the farriers are not correcting these problems is they don’t know how to, and the reason they don’t know how to is that they have not been taught correctly. The farriers working for the Sultan of Brunei, or for the Hong Kong Turf Club no doubt do an excellent job, as do the top few percent of any trade. But these farriers are an elite group and do not travel around shoeing kids’ ponies and enthusiasts’ pleasure horses.

This leaves the stable door open for newcomers to … Continue Reading ››


Farriers shoe horses, so what else do they have to learn or need to learn? They learnt their trade once, so isn’t that enough to get them through to retirement? It is a physical and tiring job and they already earn a living, so should they waste precious time and money going to association meetings? But where are all these skilled farriers, and how can horse owners find satisfactory answers to their problems? In Australia we have two main farrier associations to cover the needs of our population. Some states are not even part of these two associations, and have their own. In America, (with a population 15 times that of Australia) there are also two main associations, and another two or more smaller associations and there has been enormous discord, faction fighting and unrest over the past three years because of it. And why does Australia need two associations anyway? I assume it is a male thing for the struggle for power, just like war, and the logic for doing so becomes irrelevant, also just like war. Most farrier associations seem to be preoccupied with blacksmithing, and while the notion … Continue Reading ››


Because I flaunt my mobile phone number and my email address so freely, I receive a lot of phone calls and a lot of emails. Invariably I am either under a horse, running a course, or out of range in the outback, but I make a point of ringing every caller back as soon as I can and I check my emails daily.

Leaving a mobile phone on for 24 hours a day has its disadvantages when travelling - I am often woken around 5am by my mobile phone, when unwittingly someone from the eastern states has rung me not realising that I am currently travelling in Western Australia which is two hours behind their time. I had an email last week from a woman who hoped I would be able to tell her the quietest stock horse stallion in Australia suitable for her mare. I am flattered that people think I know every horse in Australia, but I really don’t. I receive a huge number of calls and emails from people asking me to recommend a ‘good farrier’ in their area. In actual fact, I … Continue Reading ››


I keep on having the same old recurring discussion with desperate horse owners, not only here in Australia but from quite a few other countries overseas. These owners have generally started via the internet in their search for answers to an ongoing lameness issue, which up to this point has caused them to employ the services of a succession of farriers using many and varied methods of hoof care, with no resolution of their problems. They are just looking for help. They contact me because I have a website and answer emails. They might be in Singapore or South Africa, in USA or in Australia or even just around the corner. But their horse has a hoof problem and they just want that problem resolved. It should simply be a matter of calling a qualified tradesman farrier to do his or her job and trusting them to be correct, but in reality it is not quite that simple. In any trade or profession, historically, there are … Continue Reading ››


As a young chap learning the trade I can never remember any of my older mentors displaying the attitude that they knew all there was to know about shoeing horses. If the horse had any gait or attitude problems which caused the farrier to take twice as long to complete the job, the fee didn’t alter, because he was confident that any extra effort put in now would make the job much easier next time around. It should be a matter of pride coupled with expertise that you do whatever it takes to successfully complete the task, without expecting the client to pay you extra for the privilege you have just had to practise something new and learn more. However what seems to be happening in the horse shoeing industry today is of great concern to the truly qualified tradesman and to the exasperation, dismay and despair of more and more horse owners. Farriery today it is looked upon as a very lucrative industry and sadly (for the horse) it is money motivated, increasingly infected with buzz words and a myriad of alternative new age horse shoes and methods of preparation … Continue Reading ››


Equine Influenza in the eastern states has been a steep learning curve for everyone in the horse industry, and many have suffered financial loss because of it. The bottom line is that very few horses died because of EI, the horses are still out there and they are still growing hoof at the same rate as they did before, and they still need trimming and shoeing at regular intervals. But where are the farriers?

During the lockdown, farriers could only visit one property per day. This was fine where the farriers had large numbers of horses to attend to on one property, but most farriers visit six or more properties per day, which made the financial situation for them untenable.

During the lockdown, many part-time farriers and indeed many full time farriers found alternative work. Many farriers have a trade such as fitting and turning, or metalwork, or automotive skills. Many farriers went to work for the mining industries, and then found that the money was good, they … Continue Reading ››


A few weeks ago I had a call from a young farrier who had relocated from USA and was finding it difficult to get work in South Australia. I have a standard master file of replies for email queries from farriers considering relocating from overseas, ranging from locations, hoof care charges in different states, how to get started, who to contact, weather conditions, travel distances, petrol prices, schools, immigration rules, visas and so on, so I invited him to spend a morning with me. I work in an area which could use more good farriers and where hoof care on pleasure horses is always available – because of travel and health reasons I have given away my clientele several times over the past 20 years, but it builds up again as fast as ever. During the four hours I was with the young farrier, I found out that he used side clipped steel shoes plus under-pads with sole pack material on most horses, in other cases he used plastic shoes and that he charged $200 per set and was not prepared to change his methods or reduce his price and that he had … Continue Reading ››


One of the sessions at Equitana 2005 in Melbourne in November was an open discussion on ‘To Shoe or Not to Shoe’. Panelists were Carl O'Dwyer, Grant Moon, David Farmilo, Will Miller, Dan Guerrera and Mark Rodney.

The discussion was well attended considering it was the last segment on the final day, starting at 5.15pm. The audience had the opportunity to question the panel and it would probably still be going if Equitana hadn't closed its doors!

In summary, horse owners obviously have an ever increasing problem with farrier related problems. I made the comment that horse owners have a duty of care to their horse when it comes to hoof care, and I was very promptly put in my place with the audience demanding to know just how they can get their farriers to listen to what they want.

One member of the audience labelled farriers as 'precious' due to their reluctance and affront at having the owner daring to make … Continue Reading ››