West Chester, Pa., farriers Dave Werkiser (left) and Jason Hillman (right) say it may be beneficial to have a prospective helper ride with you without promise of payment until you can gauge their reliability and helpfulness.

4 Traits That Will Help You as a Farrier Apprentice

About 20 years ago, Jessica McGrane wanted to begin a career as a farrier. She asked West Chester, Pa., farrier Dave Werkiser if she could learn the trade from him. Werkiser admits that he was at first hesitant, having had some previous helpers join his practice, but leave just when they became useful.

Eventually Werkiser agreed and McGrane began working for him. Over time, she proved Werkiser made the right decision, and McGrane has established a solid practice in Chester County, Pa. Over the years, the two have shared helpers who have gone on to also build practices or are still working with them.

Werkiser and McGrane shared their thoughts on the most important traits to uncover before taking on help. Along with fellow West Chester farriers Jason Hillman and Tanner Ernst, they identified four traits that junior farriers should bring before joining a practice.

1. You Must Have Horsemanship

McGrane says an apprentice should be someone who is comfortable around the horse. The group felt that because it is largely a combination of instinct and experience, it would likely prevent them from taking on someone lacking in horse experience. 

Farrier Takeaways

  • As an apprentice, demonstrate how you can lend value to the farrier’s practice.
  • A successful farrier needs people skills, particularly with client communication.
  • Success as a farrier comes more quickly through investing time to learn the trade outside of the workday.

“It is hard enough to learn the trade to then have someone who is uncomfortable around the…

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Jeremy mcgovern

Jeremy McGovern

Jeremy McGovern has been a journalist for nearly 20 years. He has been a member of the American Farriers Journal staff for 7 years and serves as the Executive Editor/Publisher. A native of Indiana, he also is a member of the board of directors for the American Horse Publications organization of equine media.

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