The Internet is awash with fantastic resources for blacksmiths, farriers new and experienced, and owners who shoe their own horses. The nice thing about the Internet is that in theory, it’s there 24/7 (excepting natural disasters, service problems, equipment failure and power outages), and you don’t have to wait for it to return your phone call or email if you have a question.
Farriers are coming to embrace the marketing and educational potential of this technology, so rather than guard their secrets, there’s a more recent trend towards showing other farriers and horse owners how things are done. The Internet is also a fantastic research tool that lets you hear a range of different perspectives, which is sometimes exactly what you need to help you through a problem.
So without further ado, here are five of the most useful and interesting sites available:
American Farriers Journal
No surprise that this would make the list. The online component of the print American Farriers Journal has a ton of information and resources for aspiring and experienced farriers. Their focus is on links to the journal’s content, but they collect news stories and press releases that might be of interest to professionals, do informational blogs and product roundups and feature a career guide. Their multimedia section offers “Online Hoof-Care Classrooms” – videos that offer practical advice on all aspects of the trade. There are a lot of ads, and there’s so much going on that the site can be difficult to navigate, but it’s worth the time to explore in detail.
Still in development, this resource is already a thorough, detailed and impressively slick educational site for farriers and vets. It was developed by the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Zürich and the Swiss Farriers Association and has recently been translated into English. It requires a membership (a basic one is $63 US/year). The quick free demo shows us that its content is organized by topic into such categories as equine management, biomechanics, tools, forging techniques, corrective farriery and even advanced topics such as diagnostic imaging and building artificial horn. There are videos, an excellent glossary of terms, a research reference database and a selection of case studies.
Equine Laminitis Research Unit
This website, which comes courtesy of the University of Queensland, is aimed primarily at professionals, vets, students and horse owners who want detailed and advanced up-to-date information about laminitis. It features articles by Chris Pollitt, director of the AELRU, and other peer-reviewed research on the subject. The site also features a pretty readable introduction to what laminitis is and what research has been done on it.
Forge & Farrier
A British website that features a range of information primarily aimed at professional farriers and blacksmiths. The Article Library covers news, horse health, summaries of recent clinics, how-to articles as well as write-ups on industry and business issues. They also feature competition results, information about schools, companies and industry bodies and a discussion board where people can ask questions or join debates.
The Natural Angle
This is the online publication from the company Farrier Product Distribution. Its feature articles (written by farriers and vets) cover topics like anatomy, practical shoeing, tools and techniques and biomechanics. It also has a number of articles related to the business side of the trade, as well as a series of educational videos and a blog. The site includes a Q & A page, with the Qs primarily coming from horse owners looking for information about particular cases. It’s sponsored by the company, but the ads are actually pretty subtle and the focus is primarily on the content, which is nice.
The selection was limited to sites with working links and recent activity, but there are plenty of others out there that are older but still incredibly useful. Also new sites crop up all the time, so it’s a good idea to do a search for your particular question or problem and see what comes up.
Finally, here’s a bonus one, as a treat:
It’s actually a company that makes (if makes is the right word…) equine hoof and leg models. Its anatomy charts and the pictures of the models are cool even if you don’t end up buying them for I don’t even know what purpose if you don’t run a school. Enjoy!