Many farriers aspire to show the top level of sport horses and dream about shoeing in Wellington, Fla. Be careful what you wish for. There is a lot of stress that comes with this world.

Like anywhere else, it is a service business here. You have to be good, but you also have to give great service. On any given day, I’ll start my day that I planned the night before. So I’ll show up at a barn at 8:00 a.m. to shoe six with my crew. Then my phone rings at 8:30 with a client who says, “I need this now.”

So how will I shoe my six horses and service that other customer? I will have someone who works for me get in a second truck and run around to put shoes back on or whatever the need is. It is constant and changes every day. But the pressure and expectations are always there. They lose a shoe at 10:00 that morning while jumping, they expect a shoe to be on within 2 hours. I can’t say, “We’ll see you tomorrow.” That isn’t an option.

Getting them ready for the horse shows is a big part. There are so many horse shows now. Then you get up north of here and you’ve got Salem, Saugerties and Kentucky. The clients have to go for points, so these horses all have to be ready to go to these shows. Then you’ve got all the indoors coming up at the end of summer. It’s a life of living on the road pretty much, with these clients going all over the place.

I used to shoe on the show grounds. But now that’s all changed. All my barns and all my horses are outside the showgrounds and they just get trailered to the grounds or hand walked.

When you shoe the top show horses, you’re on call 24/7. It’s hard to plan your weekends — you can’t. I’m working down here 7 days a week. If I can get a Sunday off now and then, I do. If you have a backyard business, you have some leeway. You can tell them you’ll be there Thursday. They say, “OK.” You go there Thursday. You can work hard and want the weekend off, you can plan it. You can get the weekend off. You can take a week’s vacation.

When you shoe the top show horses, you’re on call 24/7 …

When you run the type of business that I’m in, there’s no such thing as a week’s vacation unless you have somebody good working for you, who can cover that week — and that the clients know and feel comfortable with. You just can’t call any farrier friend and say, “Hey, go shoe these horses for me.” It just doesn’t work that way. The clients develop a trust in you. It also takes me a couple years with an apprentice to develop trust.

If you don’t give the client service, I don’t care how good you are, they’ll find somebody else. And that person might not be as good as you, but as long as the shoes are on, and the horses are sound, they’re OK with it. So it’s basically a service business. You have to keep them going, but you have to give service.

I probably have had more people working for me than most mentors in the horseshoeing business. And a lot of them are out in business for themselves and doing pretty well. But I try to hire clean-cut farriers, who are responsible and represent me in a good way.

In order to shoe here, you have to look good. And you have to represent yourself well, because you’re dealing with wealthy people. You have to have a clean truck. You have to sweep the floor when you’re done. You can’t smoke in somebody’s barn. All these little things play a big part in it. And you have to do a good job on the horse. You can’t rush in there and see how many they can get done. Pretty soon they’re going to look at you saying, “Hey, how could you do a good job if you ran through 11 horses? What did the last one look like?”

So again, be careful what you wish for. That backyard account has good clients, but lacks the stress at this level.

This column was taken from a podcast interview with Arnie at


July/August 2018 Issue Contents