Farrier Farewell


    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.

    Nonetheless, I hated picking up the phone and fumbling around for the right words to say. No matter how I tried, I stuttered and stammered. After I hung up I replayed the conversation in my mind. I hoped that I had made it clear that I wasn’t dissatisfied with his work. I was just another horse owner trying to save a few bucks. I do recall that in between my apologetic explanations he kept interjecting, “It’s okay, don’t worry about it.”

    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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    1. Ed is a pro. But being a Farrier is for the young. Every one I’ve seen has had injuries and back problems. It’s a tough job and they need an early retirement plan.

    2. Lol, I told my riding instructor I was thinking about becoming a farrier and she just kind of looked at me for a second then blurted out” Are you crazy!” my eyes bugged out at that, she usually isn’t like that. I’ve since gone on to become a certified veterinarian assistant 🙂

    3. I feel your pain. We had to switch vets because the one I loved was so expensive. The one we have now is good and may be retiring in a few years so we’ll have to go through it all over again.


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