Michael O'Brien, CF

202-841-7098 (cell)

Equine Services, Inc.
14108 Milltown Rd.
Lovettsville, VA 20180


Related sites

American Farrier Association
Butler Professional Farrier School

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How often should I have my horse trimmed or shod?

In the Mid-Atlantic region horses need to be trimmed and/or shod about every six weeks. The exact interval may vary depending upon how a horse uses his feet, how they wear and grow; climate, terrain, conformation, the horse’s health, the type of work a horse performs, and the horse owner’s budget. Regular care, however, is essential for maintaining a sound, healthy horse.

2. Can my horse go barefoot?

That depends upon many of the same factors, how a horse uses his feet, the climate, terrain, conformation, the horse’s health, the type of work a horse performs, and again, the horse owner’s budget.

Generally, domestic horses in work, training, or are ridden more than a couple of hours each week on soft ground are better off shod by a skilled farrier. On the other hand many horses can do quite well without shoes, and in some respects barefoot is generally healthier for the foot, but skilled care is essential in either case.

A well-shod horse is better off than a poorly-trimmed barefoot horse, and conversely, a well-trimmed barefoot horse is better off than a poorly-shod horse.

3. I see a small crack in the hoof – is this serious?

Hoof cracks result from many conditions, some serious, some not. A thin, vertical crack in the toe extending neither to the coronary band nor to the ground is likely a superficial, shallow separation due to dryness and will likely grow out with more favorable conditions and proper balancing and trimming. A deep quarter crack, often associated with a flare in the hoof wall, may need significant, sometimes immediate attention. Chipping-away at the ground may need only trimming. On the other hand, any of these conditions might indicate a chronic problem. It’s best to consult your farrier.

4. When do I call the farrier and when do I call the vet?

Generally, the farrier is concerned with the foot’s insensitive structures (such as the hoof wall, the visible sole, the frog, the periople, and the white line); the vet is concerned with the sensitive structures. In fact, this is a legal distinction in many states. Farriers also deal with bio-mechanical issues. Certain conditions (such as laminitis, navicular syndrome, fractures, and others) are best treated when the farrier and veterinarian collaborate.

5. How often should I clean my horse’s feet?

As often as possible, before you ride, and afterwards. Make it a routine part of daily grooming, even if the feet are spotlessly clean to begin with (most aren’t). Not only will you be able to maintain a healthier foot, you’ll notice small problems before they become big ones. You’ll also help your horse learn that relinquishing a leg is perfectly safe, and that can really help your farrier provide the best care.

6. What is your policy about lost shoes?

I ask clients to call me as soon as they notice a lost or thrown shoe, at any time, day or night. In return, I will come out as soon as possible and replace it without charge (unless the horse is either due, is overdue, or previous bills have not been met).

7. Do you charge a travel fee?

Generally no, but longer distances do have greater costs, so I will add a surcharge for them. However, for large, multi-horse accounts, or for several clients in the same area, I will either waive the travel fee or divide it among the clients.

8. What is your policy on scheduling appointments?

Together, the client and I schedule mutually agreeable times, and I am committed to arriving punctually, returning phone calls, and to respecting both the client and the horse with professional service.

9. When do you expect payment?

Preferably as services are performed. I understand, however, that this is not always possible, especially in boarding situations. I can accommodate any reasonable request, but typically, invoices sent via the post will include a minimal surcharge.

10. I see that you are a professional trainer as well. What are your specialties and rates?

I prefer starting green horses, foundation training, and problem solving. But I am selective about which horses I work with, for my schedule is often full; it’s a serious commitment on my part and also for the client. Please contact me if you’re interested.

11. Farriery is difficult, demanding, and backbreaking work. Why would you ever want do it?

When a sore horse puts his foot down, suddenly to discover that it no longer hurts and begins licking and chewing in relief, or when a horse moves more confidently because he’s been trimmed and/or shod in a way that makes it easier for him to perform his best, it’s a great satisfaction.