Miguel Vasquez doesn’t pretend to be a professional fabricator. Although it isn’t his career, the Grand Rapids, Mich., farrier enjoys learning the skill set through taking on tough projects. When it came time to launch his full-time shoeing business, he found a challenging fabrication project in building a new trailer.
Vasquez’s inspiration for building a trailer was simple: saving money. He didn’t see the point in taking on a large expense of a manufactured body or trailer after graduating from Oklahoma Horseshoeing School.
“When I left school, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money,” he says. “I had many thoughts on how to build my business, and fabricating my trailer was part of that.”
Although he graduated in 2020, Vasquez wasn’t new to the trade. His first began as a Paso Fino trainer in Puerto Rico. Fascinated by shoeing, he eventually learned how to trim and shoe his horses. Vasquez realized he enjoyed the problem solving presented by farriery more so than training horses and made the career change. He felt the Purcell, Okla., school would improve his knowledge and ability.
Based in Grand Rapids, Mich., Vasquez has not only built his trailer, but also a solid business. He works on a variety of horses, including jumpers, dressage and barrel racers. He also shoes for a couple of Paso Fino accounts, including one about 300 miles away in Illinois. Otherwise, most of his work is in Western Michigan.
Vasquez visits this Illinois Paso Fino barn about every 6-8 weeks. He handles just over 40 head, which he works on over 3-4 days before returning to Michigan. Meeting Vasquez at this barn shows why this trailer is a good fit for his practice.
In addition to the low, cost build, he wanted a trailer that was compact and maneuverable. The small size and weight allows it to be pushed inside a barn and positioned a short walk away from the horse. With the help of a trainer, Vasquez moves the trailer into a grooming stall next to his work area — perfect for limiting steps and keeping this trailer inside the barn on a cold, late winter day.
“It is easy for us to move around,” he says, after they wheel the trailer into the stall. “And once the anvil stand is in place, it isn’t moving anywhere.”
The trailer’s axle capacity is 3,500 lbs., but Vasquez keeps the weight under 2,000 lbs. for the towing and maneuverability. He can tow it using an SUV. Vasquez is mindful of this weight and keeps his shoe inventory low. Because this barn is one of the few Paso Fino barns he works for, Vasquez has the client order the necessary shoes from a supply shop for shipment to the barn.
Where He Started the Build
Vasquez began his build by purchasing a 2021 Cargo Express XL series trailer. He created a door to access storage and power tools by cutting a hole in the driver’s side wall. He kept the rear door as is. There is no work station on the passenger side — the side closest to the horse he works on. Vasquez constructed the inside with a combination of steel and plywood. The work deck is a -inch steel sheet, which allowed him to weld his slide out exteriors to the surface. His power tools are plugged into a single power strip, which is connected to a reeled extension cord. The overhead LED lights are battery-powered. It took him about 2 weeks to get the trailer ready for work.
The trailer build cost (not including the forge, anvil and power tools) was just over $3,000. He bought the trailer new for about $2,000, then added a forge swingout arm and custom-made anvil slide out for $600. Vasquez spent around $400 for the interior materials.
“Why spend a lot of money on something when I’m building my business?” he asks. “There are things I’ll improve on the trailer in the future, but for now, I am busy working out of it.”
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