Salute To Farriers
By MSHR staff
The 16th annual National Farrier’s Week is July 6-12. The July issue of the Mid-South Horse Review traditionally focuses on hoof care and farriers. We offer a special show of gratitude for the hardworking farriers that take care of our horses’ hooves, because the old saying is true, “No hoof, No horse.” We interviewed a random sampling of farriers from the mid-south area, asking them about their training, mentors, shoeing styles, and favorite hoof care products. We also asked about any special advice they had for horse owners regarding hoof care, horse behavior and the like.
Shawn Clarkson of Michigan City, Mississippi has been shoeing horses for nearly thirty years. His father shod horses and Shawn worked with him as a young boy. His dad wanted Shawn to advance farther than he could teach him, so he sent Shawn to school to learn how to build corrective shoes and use other advanced techniques. Shawn studied at the Oklahoma Horseshoeing School in Oklahoma City. He returned to Mississippi/Tennessee and apprenticed under Phil Mascari for a year and then went out on his own. He traveled around Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and other places, following racehorses, mostly running Quarter Horses. After about 10 years with the racehorses he stayed in Mississippi. Now he shoes a mix of horses, some performance horses, mostly barrel, roping, and jumping horses, but also trail-riding horses. During the winter he shoes field trial horses. Although he often uses Venice Turpentine, Shawn doesn’t recommend any particular product, but makes case by case recommendations. The most common problem he sees besides simple neglect is founder, although his worst “problem” horse has ringbone and requires special shoeing. His strongest recommendation to horse owners is to stay on a trimming/shoeing schedule, especially in the summer when hooves grow faster. He says take care of your horses’ feet the same way you feed them-Regularly! Shawn can be reached at 662-551-8914.
Corey McCrone of Grand Junction, Tennessee is an up and coming farrier. He has been interested in shoeing horses since he was a teen and is currently is a student in the 24 week program at Arkansas Horseshoeing School in Dardanelle, Akansas. He enjoys the program’s hands-on, in-the-field style learning environment. He especially enjoys working on performance horses. The most common problem he sees is laminitis, and laminitis which has progressed to founder. Other problems he sees are quarter cracks and soft heel cracks. He doesn’t endorse any brand-specific products for hoof care, but makes recommendations on a case by case basis. However, his biggest advice is to keep on a regular schedule so you don’t let hooves over grow and set up other problems. For owners, one bit of advice Corey gives: when trying to help the farrier, don’t give treats to occupy a misbehaving horse; it only rewards the bad behavior. Corey feels fortunate to find how easy it is to get help with unusual or difficult shoeing situations. With a picture, a text, or a phone call he can quickly have an experienced answer for a problem. Farriers who entered the profession in the days before the current styles of communication had to learn without such fast and easy access to information like he has today.
David Wentz of Tiplersville, Mississippi has been shoeing for 23 years. He trained at the Oklahoma Horseshoeing School. His mentor was Lim Couch whom he feels is responsible for a huge contribution, not only to his own learning, but to good horseshoeing in the mid-south. David shoes all kinds of horses both English, Western and flatshod gaited, and he also shoes quite a few Paso Finos and cutting horses. A common problem he sees is, with good intentions, an owner can over-do hoof care, sometimes doing things that are unnecessary and might create problems instead of help the horse. He advises owners to be careful not to set up a situation that creates bad hooves, which then creates the need to follow up with a product to combat the problem. For example, he recommends less exposure to ammonia from horse manure. “I think horses are made to be more natural than we let them be.” David believes that the more natural an environment a horse’s feet are in, the better they will be. “The horses I work on out in the country, on pasture, tend to have better feet. It’s not that I’m against hoof care products. I use them. But they should be used only when the situation calls for them, and they should be used properly. And the biggest advice I can give on products is READ DIRECTIONS.” David can be reached at 662-587-2485.
Greg Speltz has been shoeing for 26 years, since 1988. He was always interested when the farrier came to work on his horses, so he went to Reggie Kester’s school, Oklahoma State Horseshoeing School in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He worked with Lee Mytt in Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma for a while and then returned to Memphis where he learned from James Luttrell, Lee Lyles, Harold Elder, Phil Mascari and others. He shoes English hunters and jumpers, mostly Warmbloods. He shoes each horse to its particular needs. “You can’t be generic about the way you shoe. The way you shoe the horse depends on understanding its conformation and abilities and what it will be expected to do. You have to be flexible; you can’t shoe one way for all.” For owners, he recommends not following new trends or old habits, but rather, being as knowledgeable about horsemanship as possible, and having a deep understanding of care, nutrition and exercise. Good knowledge about these things will give an owner better insight toward their horse, his hooves, lameness, soundness, etc. Understanding the horse’s health and capabilities makes for good owner/farrier/veterinarian relationships and expectations where all parties can work together for a clear understanding of what a horse needs and why. Greg likes several products. He says Durasole is a good product, and Magic Cushion is great for drawing out soreness for a horse that has been showing and jumping a lot. Farrier’s Formula is a good feed supplement. And for severe cases of bad hooves, LaminaSaver is a good product but expensive. Greg can be reached at 901-568-4487.
Pete Ramey held a “barefoot farrier” clinic in Mt. Juliet June 7, 2014 at Laurel and Matt Perrigo’s Son Valley Ranch. Ten participants from all over Tennessee and some surrounding states brought their horses for evaluation and, hopefully, rehabilitation from Ramey. There were a variety of horses, from a Shetland pony to Quarter Horses and off-track Thoroughbreds to Arabian crosses. Ramey’s goal in the clinic was to assess each horse and make a plan to address each horse’s particular hoof issues. He got a detailed history on the horses from the owners, than assessed body condition, conformation, thickness of the sole, condition of the hoof wall, etc., while asking the audience members what they saw and telling them what he saw. Ramey focused on the holisitic health of the horse: what they are eating, what kind of turf they eat and walk on, soil conditions, and the environmental effects of their lifestyle on their hooves. Read more about Pete Ramey and his methods at: www.hoofrehab.com.
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