Wisdom shared from the archives of American Farriers Journal. These tips will showcase solid advice for maintaining and improving efficiency.

  1. "Personally, I like to pick up the foot, pull the shoe, trim into a flat, level plane and go to the next one. All four feet are trimmed before I go to fit them. I want to take the time to do it right - one foot at a time - rather than going back and needing to retrim the foot. I use each of the tools I've brought to the horse only one time."
     -Lee Green, Yucaipa, Calif., 2004
  2. "Rely on three types of hammer blows when forging. Wrist blows should be used for light and very accurate work. Elbow blows should be used for more powerful, but less accurate work. Shoulder blows should be used for maximum power."
    -Charlie Orlando, Belmont, N.Y., 2003
  3. "When it comes to using propane forges more efficiently, keep the metal from getting too hot. Not only will it scale more, but overheated shoes are easily overworked and nail holes will be distorted. While this isn't a big problem, it does cause more work and leads to additional propane consumption. "For simple shoe modifications, a high temperature heat is not needed. If you're using a two-burner forge with two valves, turn off one side after the liner is hot and rotate the shoes that aren't worked to the hot side. You'll definitely save fuel."
    -Danny Ward, Martinsville, Va., 2003
  4.  "I only work in a certain area each day, which maximizes efficiency, minimizes the time spent on the road and reduces fuel costs. Clients are also given the option to bring the horses to our shop."
     -Pat Burton, Burleson, Texas, 2008
  5. "Hire others as a means of saving time and your body while developing apprentices, providing employment for other shoers and making more effective use of your resources. Used properly, hiring others can make your shoeing business more money."
    -Marshall Iles, Calgary, Alberta, 2005
  6. "Don't let the hoof fall to the ground before your apprentice begins his work. Pass it to him. If I put that foot down and he picks it up, that costs us 45 seconds. Now take 45 seconds and multiply that by four feet and you get a few minutes per horse. Take that and multiply it by the number of horses you shoe a day, and you could be looking at losing a half hour or more of your time."
     -Mitch Rawlings, Woodlawn, Ill., 2002
  7. "I buy all my shoes, nails, epoxies and other small tools online. It's a real smooth process. I send an e-mail telling them what I want and it arrives either the next day or the second day, depending on the time of day when I order my supplies. "I can order day or night. I can order when I think I need something I need and I don't have to remember the next time I need to put in an order."
     -Jerry Henry, Peachtree City, Ga., 2001
  8. "Stay comfortable when shoeing. If it gets hot and humid, don't shoe without setting up fans. Being comfortable enables you to do a better job of shoeing and makes you more efficient on a hot July afternoon or a cold, windy January morning."
    -Bob Pethick, Califon, N.J., 1993
  9. "With a pair of old pulloffs, draw out one of the reins and turn the tools into a hoof pick. Use this tool to clean up the hoof without having to set the hoof down before you start trimming."
    -Donald Jones, Pleasant Garden, N.C., 2006
  10. "When figuring my days, I never book Monday as a full day. I figure it so I get done around 2 p.m.. Rarely do I finish at 2, as that is the day that you will most likely need to put shoes back on after they are lost at competitions, etc. "If I do not have to put shoes on, I have that day to catch up on those rare occasions I am jammed up in my schedule due to things not going well, new horses, etc."
    -Martin D. Kenny, Carthage, N.C., 1991
  11. "Don't beat yourself up over a mistake. You have to learn from it. You should worry about mistakes when you repeat them and they start costing you time and money."
     -The late Burney Chapman, Lubbock, Texas, 1988
  12. "Placing three or four pieces of bar stock in the fire at one time is much less efficient than developing a progressive entry work style. For example, you should be able to fit and shape a shoe in 3 minutes. "As you shape the shoe, put the bar stock for the next shoe in the fire. This many mean you need to set the forge at a slightly higher temperature so the steel is ready in 3 minutes. "This will give less scale on a shoe, use less gas and let you finish shoes faster."
    -Cecil Swan, Gloucester, England, 1996
  13. "Any farrier who does a lot of driving should get a GPS unit. It seems that at least once a week, it lets us know about a traffic problem ahead and saves us an hour. They don't take long to pay for themselves."
    -Steve Teichman, Unionville, Pa., 2008
  14. "During a demonstration, I once counted the blows that a top-rate farrier used to make a single shoe punched with four nail holes and a clip. The hammer came down 790 times to create a shoe. We must be aware of the time and the effort - the hammer blows and their effects on your body - that it takes to make a shoe."
    -Lee Green, Yucaipa, Calif., 2004
  15. "Don't judge a tool by what it costs. Instead, look at the cost per use for a tool rather than its price. Know whether a tool can save time on a shoeing job. If a tool can save you 10 or 15 seconds each time you use it, it will help you. If it can't, it decreases your productivity."
    -Jim Keith, Tucumcari, N.M., 2003
  16. "Make notches or marks on the far side of your anvil that are equal to the lengths of steel used in forging typical handmade shoes. With these marks, you can lay the steel down on the anvil and cut it to the proper length without having to measure each time."
    -Ada Gates-Patton, Monrovia, Calif., 2006
  17. "Among the tools I keep in my trailer to save time and money is a Multi-Tool all-around lightweight belt sander. Four hand grinders are each set up differently to increase efficiency. One is for grinding, one has a buffer pad, one has a sanding head and one has a thinner cutting head."
    -Esco Buff, Ph.D., Webster, N.Y., 2006
  18. "I change my rasps every week and sharpen my knives daily. I've always said that you should work smarter, not harder. And sharp tools make my life easier."
    -Rich Cleland, DeBary, Fla., 2004
  19. "If working with apprentices, use two anvils on portable carts to keep from bumping into one another. Typically everyone wants to use the anvil at the same time, so having two anvils really helps. This is especially true when one horse takes longer to finish."
    -Red Renchin, Mequon, Wis., 1999
  20. "Learn how to visualize the shoe shape and retain that image in your mind [to save trips back to the anvil]. "The first thing you should do is forget about the width of the shoe. The width has little importance because it can be easily adjusted, even while you are under the horse. The most important thing is getting the shape of the foot right, since the proper width will not be of any value if the shape is wrong. "Once you become proficient in judging the shape of the foot, the width takes care of itself."
    -Walt Koepisch, Jr., Bento, Pa., 2003
  21. "I use my nippers as much as possible to save time when trimming. Early on, I used the knife a lot, trying to impress someone with a big pile of shavings, but no one cares. But you know who cares? That horse, if you have its foot in the air too long."
    -Doyle Blagg, Collinsville, Texas, 2009
  22. "Communication with clients is important. Let them know your expectations because you have a schedule to keep. It goes a long way to let them know you can't spend your time going out and catching horses with muddy feet. That horse needs to be ready before you arrive for your appointment."
    -The late Eddie Watson, Keswick, Va., 2005
  23. "Competition has nothing to do with actual horseshoeing. Competition has its place in professional development, but your energies should be put into benefiting the horse, not stroking your own ego."  
    -Richard Duggan, Ramsey, Minn., 2001
  24. "A wooden handle is a lever that can be used to magnify the power of the hammer blow. Increase the impact of the weight of the hammer by lengthening or shortening the position of your hand on the handle."
    -Lee Green, Yucaipa, Calif., 2006
  25. "Preshaping shoes, adding clips and applying Borium to shoes can be done in your shop, saving you valuable time on the road. Preheat the shoes before applying the Borium."
    -Will Lent, Shelby, Mich., 2006
  26. "Don't take on any clients who won't schedule 6 to 8 weeks in advance. We need advance scheduling to be efficient and to maximize our earning power. Eight weeks is the absolute maximum allowed between trimming and shoeing appointments."
    -Matt Johnstone, Chesterfield, Mich., 1998
  27. "I try to call my clients ahead [using the cellular phone] to make sure everything is okay and some clients will have their horses ready. The biggest benefit is learning about emergency shoeing needs close to where you're already working."
    -The late Kirk Caudle, Baytown, Texas, 1992
  28. "Keep several hoof stands at different heights in your shoeing rig. Some horses will jerk their feet, wasting your time and energy. If you use a lower hoof stand, the leg pulling normally stops. "Don't go by the size of the horse, as working with some taller horses requires a shorter hoof stand. Set your hoof stands at several heights, down to 6 inches off the ground for old horses and for those that can't lift their legs. It's a lot easier to bend over a little more than usual than to fight with a horse that's uncomfortable or in pain from trying to hold a leg up too high."
    -Denise Lyon, Hondo, Texas, 2002
  29. "[Efficiency is] a matter of understanding what's happening to the metal when you hit and thinking ahead to what's going to happen when you fuller it or put in the nail holes."
    -Colin Smith, West Yorkshire, England, 1992
  30. "I used to think [shoeing] meant speed, speed, speed. Then I found I was making too many mistakes and had to go back and fix them. So I actually learned to slow down to go fast. "You make fewer mistakes. You don't have to fix them, so that naturally means you'll go faster."
    -Neal Poort, Sedalia, Mo., 2001
  31. "Use a leaf blower to quickly clean out your truck at the end of the day. One of the comments I get from clients is that I keep everything so neat in my truck. I've found neatness, efficiency and professionalism really count."
    -Red Renchin, Mequon, Wis., 1999
  32. "Many farriers want to shoe horses efficiently, yet pinch pennies when in it comes to purchasing tools. This is a big mistake - buy good tools."
    -Shayne Carter, Draper, Utah, 1993
  33. "Don't 'chase' the shoe while working at the anvil. Instead, pick a spot close to the anvil to strike and use the tongs to roll or rotate the shoe through that spot toward the anvil."
    -Danny Ward, Martinsville, Va., 2001

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