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Shoes for horses, trust for owners

Ferrier makes lives easier with consistent visits to Marion County

Staff Writer

Every other Friday, Spur Ridge Veterinary Hospital in Marion becomes the site for a stream of horses receiving foot-care.

Morris County resident Jay Sanders has been shoeing horses since 1991, and began coming to Spur Ridge around eight years ago.

“I’ve always been around horses and I always wanted to have a career with them,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to be the ferrier end of it, but that’s the part I like best.”

Having a ferrier visit Marion County on a regular basis is easier on the horses and cheaper for owners, Peabody resident Saje Bayes said.

Sanders made an especially big impact for Bayes’ newest horse, Froggy. At eight years old, Froggy is young for a horse, but he almost had to be put down, Bayes said.

When she purchased him a year ago, Froggy had a growth on the underside of his front-left hoof, which led to health ramifications elsewhere, she said. Froggy was in such pain that he refused to eat, and walked on three legs, causing a bone chip in his front-right leg.

It meant a year of frequent visits to get Froggy to a healthy level. To account for his left hoof, which is still healing, Froggy was given a horseshoe with aluminum plating in the middle to pad the foot.

One of Sanders’ biggest assets is that many customers are long-term. Having customers for years allowed Sanders to build trust between the owner, himself, and the horse.

The system works well for him, letting Sanders cycle through the horses he sees. Despite being at the clinic every 14 days, most horses only need service once every two months.

“Every six to eight weeks we have to re-set the shoes,” he said. “We re-trim the foot and put the shoe back on because the hooves are going to grow. When the hoof starts to grow, they start to get out of balance and out of alignment.”

Horses can do a good job of maintaining hoof-length through wear and tear, but fewer horses have enough space to wear down their hooves naturally, Sanders said.

When it’s time to trim the hoof, he breaks off the excess material, then files it to create an even surface.

Horseshoes come in a variety of styles, from flat shoes to angled ones, and often in aluminum or steel. Some ferriers still make their own, but Sanders and many modern ferriers use pre-made shoes.

Using prefabricated shoes makes sense because it’s cheaper and takes less time, Sanders said.

“Guys who are making handmade ones are charging quite a bit more than guys using the pre-made shoes,” he said. “Now it’s an economics thing, because I have 500 or 600 pounds of shoes.”

Sanders travels to other counties in the area, but Spur Ridge’s facility is better than most, he said. He credits that to Dr. Brendan Kraus, who is certified as an equine dentist and chiropractor.

“A lot of your country vets, they don’t have a set-up for horses like this,” he said. “They’ll have a good set-up for cattle work, but as far as working with horses, not a lot of them do that.”

Last modified Dec. 6, 2018

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