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Æthelthryth the Texan

Horse people- How to fire a farrier without burning a bridge?

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Any tips for how to fire your long time farrier without burning a bridge? Ways to word it? It's a very small world here and this is an experiment more than anything so I don't want to be aggressive or burn a bridge. I asked my Dad how to say it, because we used to have racehorses and dealing with trainers and vets and farriers is something he is used to, but he's, well. Really blunt. And I think at that time maybe that is how it worked at the track. I am the antithesis of blunt IRL, outside of work at least. Like I would rather crawl under a rock and just sell the horse right now than have this conversation. That is how much I am dreading it. Angst is an understatement. 

This is a person we've seen and talked to every 5-6 weeks for over five years!! I really like him as a person, and everyone says he's a great farrier. He's super kind and all of these wonderful things are far as giving and being involved in the community, but that's not the point. Although it's making this a LOT harder. But all of the problems Mr. Social is having, after a LOT of money of diagnostics and second opinions, seem to come down to his feet. What I'm being told now on three fronts is that he is now so low slung in the heel that the consensus between vets AND second opinion farrier, is that he needs to slowly have more off the toe, and get put on rocker shoes for a period of time until he grows out. Why the crazy expensive Ortho guy never mentioned this is an annoying point, but I do feel like with horse people it's the same as making a post on the internet and saying "Hey, how should I raise my kid?" I've got opinion overload right now. 

He isn't navicular. He's passed every test. His X-rays are as clean as a whistle. But he keeps getting crazy sore and it's always after trims and then he turns into a jerk. 

Ironically, the old, gruff barn sage who used to take care of him for me when we traveled told me 18 months ago she thought he was too slung. I questioned Farrier back then and he was like, no he's fine. And I am not a farrier, so what do I know? When everyone at every barn tells you your farrier is one of the best, and he is definitely not one of the cheapest and is hard to get in with, I just really didn't question him back. But Mr. Social has just been getting more and more sore, but after paying an insane amount of money to vets and for radiographs, everything seems to point that it's his feet- and nothing physiological, but rather just progressively improper trims for him. Barn owner is now 100% convinced it's his feet too and has also mentioned it to farrier but he just kind of shrugged it off. After some research barn owner found out at another barn horses had similar issues with this with same farrier, and changing the trim remedied. And at any rate,  I need to do something. 

He's been off for weeks of riding instruction. Totally off. He isn't being overused. And the vets are sort of shrugging. This is all there is left for me to try before I just stick him out in a pasture somewhere, and that would make us both pretty unhappy. Anyway, that's the story for the curious. 

So how do I do this? I would love some wording suggestions. I really stink at firing nice people when I am not 100% in my element and I am not in my element with horse feet. 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan

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Maybe you could say something like your horse is having a health problem that is very tricky, and will be seen by an expert for a while who will have control over trimming hooves. You could make it sound like it isn't his work that's the issue, just that the horse has a very difficult problem and the vet is taking over. Then you can enlist the farrier recommended by your horse vet. Thank him/her kindly for his services, and wish him well. You don't have to make it sound like you are really coming down on his service or skills.

We "fired" a farrier once. I did something similar, and he thought I was taking horse to MSU for special care so naturally would assume that the MSU farriers and student farriers would be taking care of the horse. I did have to take her to a vet clinic for an overnight on an issue - but not to MSU. I was careful when I worded it so I wasn't lying, but I was more than happy to let him think my horse was being cared for two hours from home.

It was pretty easy for me though because this farrier didn't live in the community and did a ton of traveling. He wasn't around to see her happily grazing at pasture, and no one close by used him either so he didn't have a reason come drive by the farm where she was boarded. 

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Just now, Faith-manor said:

Maybe you could say something like your horse is having a health problem that is very tricky, and will be seen by an expert for a while who will have control over trimming hooves. You could make it sound like it isn't his work that's the issue, just that the horse has a very difficult problem and the vet is taking over. Then you can enlist the farrier recommended by your horse vet. Thank him/her kindly for his services, and wish him well. You don't have to make it sound like you are really coming down on his service or skills.

We "fired" a farrier once. I did something similar, and he thought I was taking horse to MSU for special care so naturally would assume that the MSU farriers and student farriers would be taking care of the horse. I did have to take her to a vet clinic for an overnight on an issue - but not to MSU. I was careful when I worded it so I wasn't lying, but I was more than happy to let him think my horse was being cared for two hours from home.

It was pretty easy for me though because this farrier didn't live in the community and did a ton of traveling. He wasn't around to see her happily grazing at pasture, and no one close by used him either so he didn't have a reason come drive by the farm where she was boarded. 

If horse was at house I could definitely do this! But he's at a dressage barn where Farrier will still be coming regularly for other horses. And my horse is front and center- you can't miss him in that barn because, well, he's Mr. Social, so she's got him in the main area where anyone coming in to the office where we leave the farrier checks will see him! But even if we moved him to a back barn he would still probably see him because the horses are scattered around and he probably is trimming for many in her barns. 

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Well, that's tough. But honestly, I think I'd just say that horse is having a health problem, the specialist is taking over, and during treatment you'll need to use the farrier the specialist desires. Blame it on the "vet" specialist if you need to and then move on. I don't think you owe him much more than that. You don't have to go into a long discussion of what the health problem of your horse is, and you could give the barn owner a letter to deliver to him if necessary. I mean if he really wants to get into it, you can say something like "I am not discussing horse's diagnosis with anyone but the barn owner at this time", and leave it at that. He may surmise anyway since you've already asked him if horse is slung, and he dismissed your concern, but that's not your problem.

I fired a pediatrician once and the only heads up he got was a letter asking for a transfer of my kids records to a new doctor. 

I admit that it can be very hard when you've known a person a long time. I really liked the farrier I had to fire. He was a nice guy. He simply disagreed all.the.time. with what the horse vet and the horse physical therapist wanted, and they were right, not him.

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Faith-manor has given good advice.

I fired a farrier a couple years ago but he wasn't a nice guy - he was too rough with my horses, so that made the firing easy. I was blunt and just told him, "I've decided to make a switch, so won't be needing your services any longer."

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"The vet has some concerns about Mr Social's feet, so we're going to use the specialist s/he recommended for right now."  Though honestly, I've never used a farrier who wasn't perfectly happy working with a vet to solve a horses foot issues. If your farrier doesn't want to work with the vet to solve the issue, that alone would send up a red flag for me. 

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Can you be there when he trims and insist he takes more off the toe? Is Mr. Social barefoot or shod right now? I would say something like the vet said Mr. Social absolutely needs to be re-aligned and the toe needs to be shorter. If the farrier does not follow your instructions, then I would not feel too bad trying a different person.

I get the part about the horse world being small. We had a horse when we lived in a very small community and the horse community is even smaller but I did not ask a farrier back after I wanted to discuss going barefoot on my Paso because he already had "hanging pasterns" which tends to be a problem with Pasos because of their special gait. Farrier thought shoes were the only way to go. The horse was on my property and I just never made another appointment but switched. I can see this is quite different at a barn but it is quite unnecessary to spend oodles of money, have the horse be uncomfortable and be continually frustrated because of a farrier.

This whole long slung thing is a pet peeve of mine. Lots of horses get sore and who can blame them when they are less than happy. I'd be a jerk too in the wrong shoes. 🙂

 

Edited by Liz CA

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17 minutes ago, Liz CA said:

Can you be there when he trims and insist he takes more off the toe? Is Mr. Social barefoot or shod right now? I would say something like the vet said Mr. Social absolutely needs to be re-aligned and the toe needs to be shorter. If the farrier does not follow your instructions, then I would not feel too bad trying a different person.

I get the part about the horse world being small. We had a horse when we lived in a very small community and the horse community is even smaller but I did not ask a farrier back after I wanted to discuss going barefoot on my Paso because he already had "hanging pasterns" which tends to be a problem with Pasos because of their special gait. Farrier thought shoes were the only way to go. The horse was on my property and I just never made another appointment but switched. I can see this is quite different at a barn but it is quite unnecessary to spend oodles of money, have the horse be uncomfortable and be continually frustrated because of a farrier.

This whole long slung thing is a pet peeve of mine. Lots of horses get sore and who can blame them when they are less than happy. I'd be a jerk too in the wrong shoes. 🙂

 

He’s barefoot- always has been for me and previous owner and I never had an issue- even on trails. I’m not opposed to shoes- but usually for my horses unless they have light feet (his are dark) I’m not on a surface where they need them and we have been uncannily fortunate with hooves in general. 

I haven’t ever been able to meet him up there because he comes to the barn as early as 6:30 am but sometimes as late as 1- just depends on the schedule. Also I feel like with me and Barn Owner both having mentioned it, he’s just going to keep doing what he’s doing. 

Last question- is this a phone call conversation or is a text from me sufficient with short explanation of what F-M is suggesting and he can call me if he wants to discuss? Or is this totally need a phone call? 

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40 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

He’s barefoot- always has been for me and previous owner and I never had an issue- even on trails. I’m not opposed to shoes- but usually for my horses unless they have light feet (his are dark) I’m not on a surface where they need them and we have been uncannily fortunate with hooves in general. 

I haven’t ever been able to meet him up there because he comes to the barn as early as 6:30 am but sometimes as late as 1- just depends on the schedule. Also I feel like with me and Barn Owner both having mentioned it, he’s just going to keep doing what he’s doing. 

Last question- is this a phone call conversation or is a text from me sufficient with short explanation of what F-M is suggesting and he can call me if he wants to discuss? Or is this totally need a phone call? 

 

I'd want to talk to him, hear his voice, possible hesitation or openness and get a feeling how willing he is to comply with vet recommendations. It may also communicate to him you are serious enough about this to pick up the phone in a world of text messages.

I always had my horse barefoot as well since we were on soft ground always. The angle of the trim is very important since there is no making up for it with shoes or pads.

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4 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

second opinion farrier, is that he needs to slowly have more off the toe, and get put on rocker shoes for a period of time until he grows out.

Try this, with whichever farrier.
Once they get sore, they walk differently and can get slung heels shockingly quickly. Hind end lameness can cause heavy on the forehand, too. Shoes should give some relief.
Anyway, yes a phone call saying this is the approach you want to use, does he have time or should you find someone else? Or if you know you want to try someone else, just a text saying you already had shoes put on so don't need a trim, thanks.

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Has the farrier seen the radiographs of the feet?  I might try having the vet mark up the changes they want done on a picture of the X-ray and then present them to the farrier.  If he refuses then you are off the hook.

If you need help with marking up the rads, there is a group that has some volunteers that might do it.

Stefanie

Also, any chance this is something more than the trim.....has he been checked for   metabolic issues?  Those sometimes have really early symptoms in the feet.

Edited by Sdel
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59 minutes ago, Sdel said:

Has the farrier seen the radiographs of the feet?  I might try having the vet mark up the changes they want done on a picture of the X-ray and then present them to the farrier.  If he refuses then you are off the hook.

If you need help with marking up the rads, there is a group that has some volunteers that might do it.

Stefanie

Also, any chance this is something more than the trim.....has he been checked for   metabolic issues?  Those sometimes have really early symptoms in the feet.

He hasn't seen any of the vet reports, but I don't think it will matter. He's been told about all of the stuff going on throughout and had questions asked  it's not gotten more than an "huh" sort of reply, which makes me distrustful that he's going to put a lot of effort into it. I feel like if he does and things suddenly improve he's going to be pointing out that he wasn't taking concerns seriously, and so as human nature is not usually a fan of that, I am honestly a little apprehensive to let him be the one to change course- it seems like most people don't like to prove themselves wrong. Maybe I'm too cynical. But at this point. I'd rather just go to the new guy (barn owners long time farrier), who I found out today is also cheaper by $15 per set of shoes. Not $15 matters in the scheme of what its worth to have a sound horse, but now I feel like I'm potentially getting poor service AND I'm overpaying. 

He hasn't been checked for metabolic issues- no one has brought it up yet. But honestly,  if I spend another dime on this horse it's going to cause some marital issues, so I'm sort of at the done point. If the shoes and changing the trim doesn't do it he's going to have to go back to being yard art in the meantime. There has been so much guessing it's frustrating because while they're guessing I'm hemorrhaging cash and I don't have anymore to bleed. With so much going on at dh's company we should really be buckling down at this point but instead we are spending soooo much money on horse and pets it's ridiculous. At a point in the near future if there's no change,  I'm going to need to cut bait with Mr. Social and the dressage barn simply because all of this isn't being a good steward of our money at this time. 😞

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I have nothing to offer but I do sincerely hope that these next steps will resolve the issues. Hugs on this, I'm sorry for the stress of the situation. 

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First of all, I feel your pain. I've had to fire two farriers, and I *SUCK* at it. The first one (I'm ashamed to say), I just called to cancel the appointment (mentioned that horse was seeing the vet for a pre-nav check-out, which was true....), and then I just never called him back to reschedule. 

The second farrier (who's actually a barefoot trimmer) is still doing one of our horses. I switched another one away from her, and just put it down to vet / the brief need for corrective shoes / had some special situations going on. Those reasons were partly true, but the real truth is is that she wasn't trimming the other correctly. I don't know how long I'll keep up the split schedule - this is relatively recent.

I think you have a few options:

1) If you really are going to fire him, honestly, I think it would be less awkward for both of you if you e-mailed him (if that's an option...I think e-mail is 'nicer', as he will get to it when he's ready to go through e-mail), or even just texted him and said something like: " I am going broke trying to figure out the lameness issue. Due to the stress & urgency of this, I really need to try a different approach with Mr. Social's feet. As such, I will be following my vet's recommendation and am going to try the services of Mr. Farrier #2 for the next few trims. I will let you know if something changes. Please know I have really enjoyed working with you the last five years but, for the sanity of my bank account and my family, I just need to change things up. Please call if you have any questions."

2) If you choose the phone call option (and I could see why someone recommended that)....well, I'm not above doing the junior high thing and enlisting the help of a friend to come over at an appointed time to hang out with me while I made the phone call (told you I suck at this). Honestly, having someone supportive there to: 1) make sure you actually make the phone call (and not put it off), and 2) to walk you through a practice run, and 3) just give you courage, can really help. (pathetic, I know...but it works)

It's really tough when it's a personal relationship. 

 

Edited by Happy2BaMom
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30 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

He hasn't been checked for metabolic issues- no one has brought it up yet. But honestly,  if I spend another dime on this horse it's going to cause some marital issues, so I'm sort of at the done point. If the shoes and changing the trim doesn't do it he's going to have to go back to being yard art in the meantime. There has been so much guessing it's frustrating because while they're guessing I'm hemorrhaging cash and I don't have anymore to bleed. With so much going on at dh's company we should really be buckling down at this point but instead we are spending soooo much money on horse and pets it's ridiculous. At a point in the near future if there's no change,  I'm going to need to cut bait with Mr. Social and the dressage barn simply because all of this isn't being a good steward of our money at this time. 😞

 

Is he on alfalfa?  Sometimes that makes horses footsore and would indicate metabolic issues.  You might consider trying a low starch grass hay and a mineral balancer and no grains for a while and see if it helps.  He might have some trim issues that need to be tightened up, but he’s also had a lot of management changes too.

And I hear you on the horse bills.  Both of mine were in the hospital for two days with massive mystery edema.  My perfectly healthy horse got moved home and promptly diagnosed with PPID/Cushings, massive edema (she felt like a waterbed), and now this week EPM.  

Stefanie

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8 minutes ago, Sdel said:

 

Is he on alfalfa?  Sometimes that makes horses footsore and would indicate metabolic issues.  You might consider trying a low starch grass hay and a mineral balancer and no grains for a while and see if it helps.  He might have some trim issues that need to be tightened up, but he’s also had a lot of management changes too.

And I hear you on the horse bills.  Both of mine were in the hospital for two days with massive mystery edema.  My perfectly healthy horse got moved home and promptly diagnosed with PPID/Cushings, massive edema (she felt like a waterbed), and now this week EPM.  

Stefanie

OOOH NO!! I am so sorry. 😞  That sucks and you just had the happy pony news! 

 

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I hope the new farrier works out for you. Honestly, I find a good farrier to be worth his/her weight in gold. In my experience, even the best vets are still not as knowledgeable as a good farrier when it comes to issues of the feet. I've gotten burned with very expensive misdiagnoses from the vet before, when a quick visit from the farrier would have solved it for a tiny fraction of the cost. So now my rule of thumb is to always call the farrier first, and if he can't fix it, then I call the vet. Good luck!

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25 minutes ago, Sdel said:

 

Is he on alfalfa?  Sometimes that makes horses footsore and would indicate metabolic issues.  You might consider trying a low starch grass hay and a mineral balancer and no grains for a while and see if it helps.  He might have some trim issues that need to be tightened up, but he’s also had a lot of management changes too.

And I hear you on the horse bills.  Both of mine were in the hospital for two days with massive mystery edema.  My perfectly healthy horse got moved home and promptly diagnosed with PPID/Cushings, massive edema (she felt like a waterbed), and now this week EPM.  

Stefanie

 

Owning a horse is like owning a boat - bring out another thousand. Hope everyone is on the mend!

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21 minutes ago, Sdel said:

 

Is he on alfalfa?  Sometimes that makes horses footsore and would indicate metabolic issues.  You might consider trying a low starch grass hay and a mineral balancer and no grains for a while and see if it helps.  He might have some trim issues that need to be tightened up, but he’s also had a lot of management changes too.

And I hear you on the horse bills.  Both of mine were in the hospital for two days with massive mystery edema.  My perfectly healthy horse got moved home and promptly diagnosed with PPID/Cushings, massive edema (she felt like a waterbed), and now this week EPM.  

Stefanie

Oh no! So sorry to hear that. 

Is your Cushings horse on Pergolide? One of mine started on Pergolide six months ago and trying to get him to take the tablets was such an awful experience. He seriously started to hate my guts because I was making him take nasty-tasting pills every day. He got to to the point that he didn't want to eat anything I gave him because he was afraid there was a pill hidden in it.  Then my vet found a compound pharmacy that makes molasses flavored Pergolide powder, and my guy loves it. It has been a real lifesaver for us. Just wanted to mention that in case you're having the same problem I did!

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9 minutes ago, Selkie said:

Oh no! So sorry to hear that. 

Is your Cushings horse on Pergolide? One of mine started on Pergolide six months ago and trying to get him to take the tablets was such an awful experience. He seriously started to hate my guts because I was making him take nasty-tasting pills every day. He got to to the point that he didn't want to eat anything I gave him because he was afraid there was a pill hidden in it.  Then my vet found a compound pharmacy that makes molasses flavored Pergolide powder, and my guy loves it. It has been a real lifesaver for us. Just wanted to mention that in case you're having the same problem I did!

 

She is on Prascend.  So far no problems.....but I cheat the diet.  She gets it hand fed on top of a handful of 12/8 pellets.   I have been having problems with her eating the hay pellets/beet pulp with her supplements though.  Edema is going down.  I could stick my finger into her to my second knuckle.....everywhere.  Once that is taken care of, we’ll do EPM treatment.  I’m hopeful for a good recovery since even though she’s having neuro symptoms she’s still feeling okay to buck around.

Stefanie

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2 hours ago, Selkie said:

I hope the new farrier works out for you. Honestly, I find a good farrier to be worth his/her weight in gold. In my experience, even the best vets are still not as knowledgeable as a good farrier when it comes to issues of the feet. I've gotten burned with very expensive misdiagnoses from the vet before, when a quick visit from the farrier would have solved it for a tiny fraction of the cost. So now my rule of thumb is to always call the farrier first, and if he can't fix it, then I call the vet. Good luck!

I have learned a valuable lesson here. When he first started having issues I called the farrier but I called MY farrier. I think going forward, IF, I keep horses, I’d call an impartial farrier and get their opinion. Farrier time is so much cheaper than vet time- ack! 

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Well, I did it. And it was every bit as unpleasant as I had thought it would be. But I used the prompts y'all gave me, and it helped. A lot. Thanks to all. 

 But I still wanted to throw up the whole time, LOL. 

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Good job!  *hands over "I fired the farrier!" sticker*

 These horse threads are fascinating.  It's a world I know nothing about.  Hope everything works out!

 

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