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A few years ago, my bad back ended my ability to get under horses. I still help other farriers shoe horses, but I don’t get under them anymore. My back was not injured from horses. It was ruined by crawling in and out of trucks to get what I needed — from having an inefficient rig. I hurt myself more by lifting anvils than I ever did picking up a horse’s foot. When you’re short as I am, you have to get it way above belt level to get it back into the truck.
Although my bad back caught up to me, I still had a long career shoeing horses. Through my experience as a horseshoer over the decades, there are a few things I can share about prolonging your career and preparing for when it is over.
First, don’t overbook. You’re not going to shoe every horse in the world. Don’t get upset when you see another shoer in the barn that you’re working in. You have to recognize your limits. I tried to never shoe more than six horses a day. I once did 12 in a day — I paid for that dearly. I never did it again. If you work alone, shoeing six horses is a full day. Of course, you have to make sure that you charge enough for what you did that day.
Think about what you charge. I’d rather be known as the best than the cheapest. If I lost…