The first sign I get that not all is well in the foot department is constant jarring in the shoulders. Obviously I look for other reasons for this first, no one likes to tell the farrier that their client is jarring and it could be his shoeing!
I had a classic case a couple of weeks ago. A client of nearly 2 years, Melanie, moved areas with her horse Baronie, and had to change farriers. Previously Baronie had never had any trouble with her shoulders that I would attribute to soreness in the feet. After only 2 shoeings with the new farrier Baronie started to jarr through her shoulders. By the third shoeing she was lame. The vet was called and in his opinion, Baronie had been cut so short in front and was now bruised. 4 months on, she is still slightly bruised, and still jarring, although improving.
There was no way for Melanie to know that Baronie was being cut too short. She placed her faith, as we all do, in her farrier as he had come highly recommended. So, how can we assess for ourselves if there is a problem with our horses farrier?
I decided to have a word with a farrier and get his views. I spoke to Jamie Henny (http://www.horsefarrier.co.uk/) He agrees that even small miscalculations in shoeing can have a massive impact on what happens muscularly further up the body. So feedback from physio’s is very important.
When I asked him how can a client tell if the shoeing is not suiting the horse, he said “If I had a pound for every time a new client asked when it would be fine to ride the horse after it had been shod, I would be rich!” He explained “a horse should be able to be ridden within 30 seconds of the last nail being hammered down if so desired. If your horse goes lame after shoeing, even slightly, if you need to allow a day or so for the horse to adjust to his shoes, then something is wrong.”
A good farrier is quite literally worth his weight in gold! If you've got one - make sure you treat him decently or he may decide he doesn't need you as a client. If you think yours is not as good as he should be - discuss the problems with him and try to resolve them, or quite simply look for a new one.
Most farriers have at least as much work as they can handle - but don't be tempted to use an unlicensed farrier. Apart from the risk to your horse's soundness - it is against the law.