Challenging Conditions for Farriers


mountain base hay field.

Don’t let the lush green (because of irrigation) at the eastern base of the Cascades fool you. Just miles east, the terrain turns into a farrier’s nightmare.


A recent trip to central Oregon brought to mind some comments made by farriers shoeing in the west about the world of working ranch, pack and trail horses. It is a completely different shoeing challenge than that of the average show horse in a controlled environment or in a “gentler” terrain.

farrier's nightmare

Welcome to the nightmare. The volcanic rock strewn terrain of the high desert will challenge your ability to adapt- and perhaps push you to fit shoes much differently than you would in many areas of the country. Your working ranch horse may have something like this to get through in central Oregon.

The Cascades divide the eastern “high desert” region of central Oregon from the coastal region to the west. While there are plenty of show or event activities in central Oregon, there are a significant number of working ranch horses and others that have to deal with the dry, volcanic rock strewn terrain. How would you shoe for that environment? Chances are you won’t have the luxury of shoeing with the same fit as you would in a less challenging terrain. You might see here why the fit is tight and providing length for support is going to create problems.

the west side

The west side of the Cascades is clearly a more friendly environment for farriers. While changes in moisture levels may present challenges, the ability to shoe for support has a much broader acceptable range.

The coastal region of Oregon provides quite a different footing. This is where you might go for relief if you’ve been fighting the harsh landscape of the high desert. Odds are the shoeing style is completely different on the west side of the Cascades and if you are working both sides of the range, you need to be flexible and understand the differences in the conditions- and the tolerances you have to deal with in fitting shoes.

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