Horsemanship 1.1 – making life easier for the farrier – and you

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Did you know it is National Farriers Week in the US? Leading farrier Steve Kraus, from Cornell’s Vet College, has shared a few guidelines for making the blacksmith’s visit better for all involved.

Kraus, a 44-year veteran of the profession, says the best gift you can give your farrier is a clean, well-behaved horse in a safe workspace.

Here, Kraus shares five things every farrier wishes their clients knew:


1. Catch and clean up your horse.

Steve Kraus
Steve Kraus

“It may only take five minutes to get him in, but if everyone takes five or ten minutes to catch the horse, it adds up. That’s why farriers are notoriously late. Bring him in early enough so you can clean off muddy legs and feet and give him time to dry off and settle down.”

2. Provide a suitable workspace.

“It has access to the truck and is reasonably well-lit. It is located out of the wind, rain and snow but well-ventilated. A safe place, with no bikes or lawnmowers or things the horse can get into, with enough room if I have to move quickly. And it should be reasonably quiet. The other day a girl ducked under the crossties while crunching up a large plastic bag, which spooked the horse I was working on. When we’re underneath horses we can feel them tensing up, and we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

3. Teach your horse manners.

“In my early years I made a good part of my living working on horses that no one else could or would shoe. It was part of the job. Now there’s a liability factor, not only for me but for the owner and the horse itself, and we have to be more careful. Most farriers today say it’s not their job to train and discipline horses, so don’t expect it.”

4. Know your limits.

“Some owners are very capable of handling their own horses during trimming and shoeing, and some are very incapable. I’ve had to tell owners to please just sit down and be quiet and let me handle the horse.”

5. Learn about AFA Certification.

“American Farriers Association certification is the only program in the US where farriers voluntarily prepare for and take competency exams. They are doing it to improve their skills and knowledge and to be assessed by their peers, and they deserve a lot of credit for that.”

National Farriers Week runs from July 5 to 11.

Steve Kraus is head of Farrier Services and a lecturer at the Nemo Farm Animal Hospital at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine.

A graduate of the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a bachelor’s in Animal Science, Kraus is an American Farriers Association Certified Journeyman Farrier. He has shod many types and breeds of show and performance horses for more than 40 years. In addition, he has worked for Mustad Hoofcare since 1976 as their farrier consultant, representing the organization across the country at farrier and horse owner clinics and events, as well as testing and developing horse nails, horseshoes, farrier tools, and the hoof care products that Mustad produces and markets. Since 1968, Kraus has also been the farrier for all the equine programs in the Cornell University Athletic department, which includes the Cornell Polo Team, Equestrian Team, and Physical Education Riding Program.

An avid rider and polo player, Kraus owns and trains five polo horses at his farm in Trumansburg, NY. He plays outdoor polo during the summer and coaches and umpires for indoor polo at the Cornell Equestrian Center during the rest of the year.

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