What if the horses could literally talk to us? They would be able to phone the farrier when the hooves needed attention (regardless of the owner’s opinion as owners sometimes want to stretch out the weeks to save money, and some often lose track of time and shoeing dates). If horses could talk they would be able to check out the expertise of the farrier/hoof trimmer before allowing them to start, and express an opinion whether they even wanted the farrier to touch their feet after that last episode.

They could tell their owner about the seasonal changes in their hoof growth and condition, then go over to the rack and select a set of nice new shoes in the correct size and weight which they would know would suit them for the coming important event. They could say “I don’t want those cheap heavy shoes like that old gelding next door is wearing; I could be a much better athlete with the right shoes, and you had better understand that.”

He could say “So what if I am harnessed to this four wheeled carriage and my job is to trot the tourists around the streets of Vienna – I have been doing it for months and every time I pass through under the arch of the historic palace near where the Vienna Lipizzaners are performing, I start to dream about being one of them, as they have beautifully manicured hooves, so obviously they are able to speak to their farrier personally and get the correct attention. They are allowed to stand in a nice soft stall to rest, then prance through the archway past all the tourists and have their photos taken, then they get to exercise in that indoor ménage on beautiful soft white sand, then showered, groomed, back to the soft stall and fed again, and they all look so happy.”


But we are just the carriage horses you see in all the historic cities right around Europe. We are fully employed, we get fed and groomed, we wear fine harness and our carriages are kept in immaculate order and our photographs go home with you to all parts of the world; very possibly you had a ride in the carriage that I pulled and you now have a photo of me. But have a closer look and you will see that our feet are not looked after properly and we are standing on and trotting along rough cobble stone streets made of granite, some of which date back to early Roman times.”

They might even recall “Recently we met an old Australian farrier who was a tourist in Rome, Salzburg, and Vienna; he was trying very diplomatically to discuss with our drivers about the poor state of our hoof preparation and shoes. He could also see the obvious pain and discomfort we were in, even though our farrier had only just re-shod us yesterday but he had left our hooves too long in the toes. Our heels are crushed from months of poor shoeing, and consequently we stand splayed in front and cow hocked behind which HURTS us, then the same farrier welded 10mm nuts on the heels of the shoes to stop us from slipping on the granite cobble stone streets. Our leg joints are already enlarged and calloused from concussion, very few of us have had cushioning pads fitted under our shoes.”

This old tourist farrier from Australia could see the glassy pain in our eyes, and my carriage horse partner actually snapped at him because her feet were so sore. We watched hopefully as the tourist farrier attempted to explain all this to our keepers, but we were very sad as his words fell on deaf ears and they shrugged their shoulders and said they were only the drivers of the carriages.”

We watched as the old tourist farrier walked away, head bowed and with a tear in his eye, silently praying that one day we might be able to talk, so that our drivers or owners might understand that our hooves are their future also.”