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Changing Your Farrier Practice

Ohio farrier extends his career in spite of arthritis by transitioning to trims only


Pictured Above: Kirk Underschultz transitioned to only trimming two years ago. If shoes are needed, he recommends another farrier but provides consultation.

Kirk Underschultz has been a hoof-care professional since 1979 — a testament to his love of the work and devotion to his clients. But it wasn’t long ago that his future as a farrier seemed uncertain.

Several years ago, Underschultz started experiencing painful arthritis in his fingers and wrists — the most critical tools of any farrier. While the discomfort was mostly manageable in his personal life, he needed aspirin and arthritis medication to offset the additional aggravation caused by the labor of shoeing. Underschultz, now 63, had worked long enough to see farriers age out of the profession and he knew what was coming next.

“I’ve known many guys — first class farriers — who, after shoeing a horse, had to crawl to their trucks because they are in that much pain,” Underschultz says. “I didn’t want to end up that way.”

Farrier Takeaways

  • Acknowledge changes in your physical abilities and overall health and how it’s impacting your ability to shoe horses. Ignoring these observations is bad for the farrier and the horse.
  • Adapt your business to accommodate these changes. Give yourself more time between barns and look for custom tools that can make your job easier.
  • Look at all the economic factors involved when considering a…
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Kristen Kubisiak

Kristen Kubisiak has been a writer and photographer with newspapers and magazines for 15 years. A native of Wisconsin, she is the Managing Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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