A farrier is a tradesperson skilled in the art of caring for a horse’s feet. Traditional farriers were blacksmiths as well, but in the last few decades a school of farriers advocating barefoot techniques has emerged; these farriers are not metal workers.
Traditionally, a farrier had to understand both animal husbandry with regard to trimming a horse’s feet for health and balance, and blacksmithing, in order to craft metal into horseshoes and attach them to a horse’s hooves. These people often learned their skill through apprenticeship, such as that which existed during the European middles ages.
More recently, schools of thought based on observation of wild horses have concluded that horse’s feet can be best cared for without the addition of metal shoes. These farriers learn by doing, and may also attend lectures and seminars in barefoot trimming.
A difference of opinion
Because the use of diametrically opposed techniques can affect people’s livelihood, the relative merits and disadvantages of traditional care and barefoot care can sometimes lead to acrimonious debate.