The Practice Act laws state that only veterinarians can diagnose and treat health problems. The veterinarian has to keep records related to each visit and also must protect the confidentiality of your horse’s records, and is the steward of that information for you. Veterinarians are required to have a great deal of education, but often not a great deal of education related to foot problems.
In contrast, farriers work with feet every day. The farrier does not have a legal license, but sees and shoes your horse every four to six weeks. He/she knows your horse’s feet, knows metal working, and hopefully keeps up with various shoeing applications.
Experience and willingness to work together to solve a particular problem are important for both veterinary and farriery professions. Most of the time your veterinarian and farrier will be working separately on your horse, but having them work together can save his life.
You own the horse and pay the bills, so you need to know if your veterinarian and farrier are willing to work together. Ask who your veterinarian and farrier refer to when they have questions about a foot or lameness case. These are two simple questions that many owners are not willing to ask, but getting the best veterinarian and farrier you can find organized before a problem occurs is critical. Once you get your “team” in place, be loyal to it–changing veterinarians and farriers can set your horse’s normal care backward and worsen a lameness (because a new team won’t be familiar with the horse’s history). If a problem occurs within your team, consult the regional professionals whom your veterinarian and farrier identified as their mentors.
How can you use this team to the benefit of the current and future health of your horse? First, they can help determine when your horse should be shod or trimmed. Is it every four, five, or six weeks? If your horse has a proble