Travis Burns, resident farrier at Virginia Technological University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Va., has seen a trend toward specialization in farriery work. When it comes to specializing in therapeutic work, it isn't only ability — you need the mentality to handle the work as well.

“It takes a certain personality to be able to do therapeutic shoeing 24/7 because you don’t always know whether the horse is going to make it or not,” he says. “This can weigh on your mind at the end of the day. 

“Shoeing a horse that’s going to go jump is a whole different world than shoeing one that has abscessed or that may be about to slough its feet because of laminitis. Most farriers that do therapeutic shoeing still have some percentage of their clients that are performance-based. This may help give you a feeling you are accomplishing some good daily. You can go out and watch that horse jump and win a blue ribbon. With therapeutic shoeing, you’re happy if you walk in the barn the next day and see the horse standing there alive, or maybe a little more comfortable than he was. Your whole mind set has to change when you take on this field.”