Make Your Barn Welcoming and Safe for Veterinarians and Farriers

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Your veterinarian and farrier are critical to the success of your farm. Their jobs are demanding and hectic, but you can make their day just a bit easier by offering some simple courtesies and amenities at your stable. While these may seem really basic, they are a good reminder to “put the shoe on the other hoof,” so to speak, and consider your working environment from their perspective.

Here are 10 tips to let your veterinarian and farrier know that you respect them, and their time.

  1. When you know the veterinarian and/or farrier are coming, make sure the horse is in the stall and ready to go for them. For reasons of time and liability, they should not have to bring the horse in from the field…or turn the animal back out again. If for some reason you or someone else cannot be there, let the vet or farrier know that in advance so they can plan accordingly or reschedule the visit. 
  2. If the horse is new, make sure you or someone who knows the horse is there to handle him or her for the vet or farrier. Knowing in advance that the horse bites, kicks, rears, bolts, or has other quirks, such as going ballistic when hoof dressing is applied, can keep everyone safer and happier. 
  3. Let others know when the veterinarian or farrier will be working on the horse. Starting up a blower, weed whacker, or chain saw right outside the barn, just as the farrier is bending over to work on a hind hoof or the vet is flexing a hock for instance, could cause trouble that might have been prevented.
  4. If possible, have a quiet area where the veterinarian or farrier can work, preferably off the aisle. If the vet will be working in a wash stall, make sure that it’s clear of debris and obstructions, such as shelves, which can get in the way, restrict the working space, and/or cause injury to horse or human.
  5. Rubber matting on the floor where the professional will be working improves traction and safety if the horse starts moving around. Farriers appreciate the extra cushioning on their own joints and feet, too.
  6. Good lighting is essential. If your barn is dark, at least make sure you have an additional light and an outlet in the work area. Of course, you want to make sure the light source is safe (unprotected light bulbs need not apply).
  7. Running water in the area where the professional will be working on your horses is a huge help. If this is not possible, make sure to have someone available who can bring water to the veterinarian or farrier.
  8. On hot, buggy days, it helps to have a fan set up to help keep flies off the horse while they are getting shod or treated.
  9. If possible, choose a farrier and veterinarian who work well together as a team. Their mutual respect and cooperation is in the best interest of everyone—especially the horse.
  10. A small dose of good old-fashioned hospitality goes a long way toward making the vet or farrier’s day proceed more comfortably. An offer of water on a hot day, coffee or tea on a cold one, and a thank-you for their excellent care and service are little things that help your professional feel more appreciated.

These inexpensive tips can help your barn function smoothly and safely, and help your veterinarian and farrier focus on their primary job—taking excellent care of your horses.