Sunny’s shoes: a visit from the farrier

The rocky terrain in Hawaiian pastures can be tough on horseshoes due to the unforgiving volcanic rock. As a result it’s important that Sunny’s shoes are checked regularly and kept in good shape. When the shoes need attention it’s time to call in the farrier!

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Sunny waits patiently with Poncho in the background

What does a farrier do?

Farriers are specialists in hoof care for horses, and also donkeys. The profession itself has a long history, dating back hundreds of years.

The word farrier derives from the Latin ‘Ferrarius’, meaning ‘iron’ or ‘blacksmith’. Before there were farriers, who worked almost exclusively with horses, it was the blacksmiths that made and fitted the horseshoes.

The farrier’s job consists of the following key elements:

Observation – they must have a keen eye for when a horse might be injured or about to become lame. They must also be able to identify other illnesses or infection related to a horse’s hooves.

Trimming – it’s important that the length of a horses hooves are properly maintained. A farrier will use rasps and nippers to remove excess hoof material. 

Cleaning – a horse’s hooves need to be kept clean to avoid infection. Farriers need to carefully cut out excess hoof walls, dead sole (dead material in the hoof) and dead frog (a thrush infection, usually a black goo) if present. 

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1. Cleaning the hooves
2. Using the nippers to clean
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3. Fitting the new shoe
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4. Attaching the new shoe

Our local farrier

Every six weeks it’s time for Sunny to get new shoes. Our longtime farrier, Cliff Lorenzo (above), has been doing our horses here at Horizon Guest House for many years. Cliff shoes horses on the Big Island and Maui. Among his clients are the many ranches on the Big Island, including McCandless Ranch which borders the property.

Don't forget the nails!

After the shoe has been fitted it’s time to file down the nails. Cliff uses a custom made horse stand to make it easier for him and the horse.

Where did the horses come from?

Horses were first brought to Hawaii in 1803 as a gift to King Kamehameha I. Soon after, the cattle trade increased and so did the need for horses and experienced cattle handlers. Horses became the standard mode of transport on the growing number of ranches and continue to be used on the ranches today for cattle control.

What about the donkeys?

Donkey’s are best equipped for rocky terrain and usually have sturdy hooves that don’t need shoes. Poncho and Lefty (above) don’t have shoes and the rocky environment tends to wear away any excess material on their hooves. They can even trim their own hooves in the right environment by rubbing their hooves against rocks if they need to!

The Big Island’s ranch culture has meant that farriers continue to be in demand today, making sure that horses like Sunny are kept shoed and able to comfortably graze the rocky pastures.

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