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While jogging one of the horses he works with, trainer and farrier Neil Coleman gives instructions to Steve Haltom. Being able to help in the training of the horses has given Haltom better access to understanding Standardbred locomotion and effects of hoof care. Haltom also gets to exercise some of Coleman’s horses at the Shelbyville, Ind., track.
When there isn’t enough business in an area to support a general or specialized footcare practice, a farrier may relocate to a better economic climate.
If a farrier is dead set on shoeing, for example, dressage horses, and the local area doesn’t have enough quality horses — or owners — one option is to move to an area that can provide an adequate number of horses to support that specialized practice.
While relocation isn’t an easy choice for established farriers. Shelbyville, Ind., farrier Steve Haltom found himself facing that choice in 2012. After nearly 10 years in the industry, he had a healthy practice with 200 horses, ranging from backyard accounts to eventers. Unfortunately, the tough economic times of the past few years hit his area hard and impacted many of his clients.
What followed was a similar story for many farriers — financially strapped clients first began spreading out their hoof-care appointments beyond Haltom’s routine 8-week schedule, then canceled future appointments, until finally getting rid of their horses.
Haltom ended up losing around 30% of the horses on his books because these clients were unable to afford hoof care or horses.