I found myself in an uncomfortable position yesterday. I had to inform my farrier that I was switching to someone else for horseshoeing services. It had very little to do with his capabilities and a lot to do with a harsh reality in today’s economy: He had inched up his rates and I found someone else who could do the same job for less money. The only fact that made me feel a little less awkward was that he was on the verge of retiring, anyway.
Yet I knew that I was, essentially, deducting a couple thousand dollars from his annual income. You see, he not only shod Wally and Danny, but he was also the farrier for my sister’s horse and those belonging to my mom. Now those farrier fees would be going to someone else. So how could it be all okay? Despite his cheery demeanor it had to hurt that I was, in essence, firing him.
Since he’s such an all-around nice guy I tried to soften the news by resorting to that tired old adage, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Yes, the phone conversation was very much like breaking up with an old boyfriend.
So right now I have a handwritten card sitting on my desk. I’m sending him a note, once again explaining (in much clearer, concise language, I hope) why we’re all switching to another farrier. Plus I’ll have a chance to wish him a happy soon-to-be-officially-announced retirement.
Then I guess I cross my fingers and hope that this new farrier turns out to be not just less expensive, but also as reliable and ethical as the one I let go.
This stressful experience reminds me once again how much we depend on the professionals who help us take care of our beloved horses. I cannot doctor a horse, so I rely on my vet for health matters. I cannot always address every behavior issue I encounter with my horses, so I rely on objective insight from one of my trainer friends. And I’m not about to trim hooves or forge shoes, so I rely on a farrier to keep my horses’ feet sound. Horse care definitely requires a team effort. Reconfiguring the members of that team can produce a lot of anxiety. At least it does with me.
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