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Trends act as disruptors affecting various aspects of society. Recognizing trends is one thing, but adjusting and responding to them accordingly is another. During the 2020 International Hoof-Care Summit, a panel of equine industry experts identified trends that will continue affecting farriery in the upcoming few years. The changing demographics of clientele and those consequences were the primary discussion. The most significant trend is the growing number of novices (fewer than 3 years of horse ownership).
Not a new trend, this is most recognizable among the backyard/trail riding/general pleasure horses. Many seasoned farriers often anecdotally note how that many more clients today lack horsemanship compared to those from two or more generations ago. This has been a major influence on farriery in how to manage these clients.
Obviously, new owners and horses need to continually enter the trade for the equine industry to avoid extinction. Although the national population grows, the overall horse population appears to have been flat over recent years, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. What might be more concerning is a decline in the aforementioned general pleasure horse population (73% in 2010 to 68% in 2018, as reported in a 2018 American Horse Publications survey). Perhaps a marginal decline, but considering the majority of farriers work with these horses (a 2018 American Farriers Journal survey reports 93% of respondents have at least one account that fits this category).
So where are inexperienced clients coming from? Panelist Amy Cairy of…