Building a Veterinarian-Farrier Relationship (AAEP 2012)

Veterinarians and farriers must work as a team to manage a horse’s athletic soundness and performance.
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Veterinarians and farriers must work as a team to manage a horse’s athletic soundness and performance. The collaborative dynamic between veterinarian and farrier is important to ensuring a horse remains sound and receives the best possible hoof care. William Moyer, DVM, of Texas A&M University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, and Harry Werner, VMD, of Werner Equine in Connecticut, explored this topic during the in-depth Foot from Every Angle seminar at the 2012American Association of Equine Practitioners’ (AAEP) Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in Anaheim, Calif.

Moyer brought to the discussion nearly 40 years of practical veterinary experience along with a background in shoeing prior to veterinary school; similarly, Werner has decades of practical experience in caring for horse feet. Werner suggested, "A partnership with a farrier is important to the health and welfare of the horse, particularly if a veterinarian doesn’t possess the necessary skill set to deliver competent hoof care." In addition, he remarked that the high incidence of human orthopedic injuries associated with farrier work underscores the importance of hiring a farrier who is also well-versed in this skill set.

Moyer noted that farriers can work on horses in the United States without certification, whereas in the U.K. they must complete a four-year apprenticeship. Also in America shoeing schools are not regulated, he explained, and many farriers are self-taught. "One organization, the American Association of Professional Farriers, has made a positive contribution by requiring continuing education credits of its members," he said.

Both practitioners urged veterinarians to share complete case information and comprehensive instructions with the farrier in clear, nontechnical language; some farriers have more of a medical background than others. They also recommended including the client in this discussion, actively encouraging him or her to participate as an integral part of the decision-making process. If the farrier isn’t available during the farm visit, they said, the veterinarian should leave written instructions for the farrier and follow up with a phone conversation later

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Nancy S. Loving, DVM, owns Loving Equine Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and has a special interest in managing the care of sport horses. Her book, All Horse Systems Go, is a comprehensive veterinary care and conditioning resource in full color that covers all facets of horse care. She has also authored the books Go the Distance as a resource for endurance horse owners, Conformation and Performance, and First Aid for Horse and Rider in addition to many veterinary articles for both horse owner and professional audiences.

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