Eventer Lauren Nicholson has turned a love for horses and eventing into a lifelong career that has carried her all the way to the Olympics.
May 19, 2021
Finding a good farrier is as important as selecting a good veterinarian. Check out these tips from experienced farrier Chris Martelli about how to work side by side with your farrier for the good of your horse.
There’s a reason that “no hoof, no horse” is a well-worn adage in the horse industry. Given the impact of your farrier on your horse’s health and soundness, that adage could just as easily read “no farrier, no horse.” Think about it: if your horse is on a regular trimming and shoeing schedule, then your farrier sees your horse at least once every six weeks. Unless your horse is sick or injured, that means your farrier assesses your horse more often than your veterinarian does. And just like your veterinarian, your farrier plays an active and crucial role in keeping your horse sound, enhancing its performance and maintaining healthy feet.
According to Chris Martelli, professional farrier, that’s exactly why your horse needs a good farrier who not only has the skills and expertise necessary to do the job, but also the attention to detail and level of devotion to do the job well.
“I owe it to my clientele’s horses to be there for them whenever they need me,” Chris said. “I see myself as part of their team, just like a physical trainer for a professional football team.”
Chris, who is based in Ocala, Fla., trims and shoes Thoroughbreds, jumping and eventing horses who regularly compete at the highest level of their disciplines. He has worked for such clients as two-time Olympian Scott Keach, Olympian eventer Lauren Nicholson, international 5* event competitor Liz Halliday-Sharp, Olympian Will Coleman and others.
“These horses work hard every day, and my team and I owe it to them to be there day-in and day-out to assist in their soundness,” Chris continued. “For example, I can lose up to a year’s worth of work that I’ve done to help bring a horse along in the blink of an eye. One mistake can result in a few days off to a week off, then a month, then a season, and there go your Olympics hopes.”
In 2010, Chris started a 36-week course studying every aspect of shoeing with the Kentucky Horseshoeing School in Lexington, Ky. After completing his studies, in conjunction with a two-year apprenticeship, he received his full diploma in 2012. Also in 2012, he completed the American Farriers Association (AFA) Certified Farrier (CF) exam. In total, Chris opted to complete seven years of apprenticeships under such farriers as Chris Beymer, Alan Frye and Bob Hodges, learning to shoe a variety of horses. Now, Chris owns and operates Fox Hill Forge in Ocala, Fla., working with elite eventers and jumpers. Many of his clients have competed in the World Equestrian Games, the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event and other top competitions including multiple Olympic games.
For this blog, we asked Chris about the top five things he wished all horse owners knew about farriers, and here’s what he had to say.
Whether your horse is an elite athlete at the peak of its career or your beloved backyard trail horse, your horse needs a good farrier who knows how to do the job. If you’re lucky enough to already know a good farrier, try out one of Chris’s five tips next time he comes by. Your farrier will thank you, and so will your horse.
Explore the latest news and trends in the equestrian industry
Explore what's really important in your industry