Throughout 2010, we've celebrated our 35th anniversary by recalling some of the best farrier insights that have appeared in the magazine's pages. So far, we've looked at topics such as forging, customer service and shoeing efficiency. This issue will showcase solid advice for novice farriers.
1. "Many farriers want to shoe horses more efficiently, yet pinch pennies when it comes to purchasing tools. This is a big mistake — buy good tools."
Draper, Utah, 1993
2. "You don't want a client because of your price, you want a client because they want you. There is always someone who will charge less."
John Blombach, Jr.,
Westminster, Mass., 2010
3. "I won't criticize another farrier because we have all made or make mistakes. As long as we learn from your mistakes, we can improve."
Minerva, Ohio, 2001
4. "Since it is possible to still make a good living in isolation, some folks resist letting their work be judged by others. This is a big mistake in my opinion, because most of the better farriers I know will do their best to avoid embarrassing someone that is trying to improve."
Heartland Horseshoeing School,
Lamar, Mo., 2009
5. "Most importantly, farriers are independent contractors. Set your business schedule and don't let the clients make unreasonable demands on your time."
The late Bob Skradzio,
Ambler, Pa., 1994
6. "There are a whole lot of things you need that you just can't buy. You have to take a tool home and set it up so it can work efficiently for you. It takes time, but it's time well spent."
Midland, Texas, 2001
7. "Spend time with riders and trainers while their horses are working to develop a greater sense of how to shoe these horses."
Trumansburg, N.Y., 2002
8. "Never walk away from a shoeing job you aren't happy with. You strive for perfection, but you won't hit it. There must be a pride in your workmanship."
Rochester, Wash., 2010
9. "[Early in my career] I was trying to shoe everything that no one else wanted to do. This is not the safest way to make a living. Everyone starting out goes through some of this, but you need to move on as soon as possible."
Danny Ward Horseshoeing School,
Martinsville, Va., 2010
10. "If you want to learn a particular type of shoeing, find a shoer who specializes and ask to ride along with him. Meet people. Get yourself introduced."
Defiance, Mo., 2008
11. "I believe if one stays the same and does not strive for consistent improvement, passion is sometimes replaced with boredom. A positive attitude can turn negative if you surround yourself with negative people. We are who we hang with."
Coschocton, Ohio, 2010
12. "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."
Sedalia, Mo., 2001
13. "You'll never find the right tool if you aren't using it properly."
Calgary, Alberta, 2004
14. "If you are not already planning for your next truck, you are already behind."
Tyrone, Ga., 2003
15. "I make thousands of dollars from every clinic I attend, as I can use what I learned to become more efficient."
Osawatomie, Kan., 2002
16. "Anyone shoeing horses for a living deserves your respect. Do not talk poorly about your competition to other farriers, customers, vets, trainers or anyone else. There is room enough out there for lots of different shoeing styles and series."
Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School,
Plymouth, Calif., 2004
17. "You should know an insurance agent on a first-name basis. The agent will help you arrange the best policies for truck, life, health, liability and care-and-custody insurance. It doesn't cost anything to talk to an insurance agent, it just takes a little time."
Owosso, Mich., 2006
18. "[When looking for a mentor], stay away from a farrier that tells others how good he or she is. One that is truly good doesn't need to tell everyone this."
Carthage, N.C., 2009
19. "I like keeping all of my shoeing items in a specific place where they're always easy to find and reach. Without taking more than a couple of steps, I can easily do all of this work, which leads to much more shoeing efficiency."
Sulphur, Okla., 2004
20. "Don't think, 'I just need to shoe these clients horses and that's that.' Today, there are too many unbelievably great opportunities to learn."
Drummond, Wis., 2007
21. "As you practice doing the right things, your confidence will increase. You will come to know your value to your clients and their horses. Eventually your good reputation will precede you. The better you perceive your value — and get your customers to perceive your value — the more you can justifiably charge for your valuable services."
Butler Professional Farrier School,
Crawford, Neb., 2009
22. "In this trade, the only way to gain a lot is to do a lot. If you are just looking for money you'll find it, but I would encourage you to look higher. You can do better than just that. I love this trade, and other than God and family, it is my pride and passion."
C. Kent Misener,
Rosebud, Mo., 2010
23. "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 Tools,
Tucumcari, N.M., 2003
24. "Forging is the essence of horseshoeing. If you can't do this effectively, you can't balance horses."
Ramsey, Minn., 2000
25. "As I've gotten older, I've become more serious about taking care of my body. It's definitely worth the time I put into it."
Versailles, Ky., 2006
26. "Nothing tells a client that you don't care like not showing up on time. It shows that you aren't concerned about the care of the horse. Sometimes the people that own the horses take off time from work so they can be there."
Ashland, Ohio, 2010
27. "I know guys gripe about paying taxes, but you have to do it. Put something away every month in a savings account so you can pay the IRS."
The late Jack Miller,
Latana, Fla., 2003
28. "You need to be a good businessman. You need to have good people skills. You have to have a certain level of craftsmanship. You have to make a commitment to continuing your education. "And you have to present a good professional image. If you find a guy who's having trouble making it and really look hard at what he's doing, he'll be falling down in at least one of those areas."
Ames, Iowa, 2004
29. "[Your shoeing rig] doesn't have to be expensive, just use good construction techniques, like screws instead of nails. Use the ideas of people in your area. Ask other farriers what has worked for them. Read the stories like 'Shoeing For A Living,' in American Farriers Journal to see what successful shoers are using."
Stone Well Bodies & Equipment,
Genoa, N.Y., 2002
30. "Sometimes you can make a shoe that is so complicated you can't make it work. Instead, stand back, open your mind and take another look."
Dr. Ric Redden,
Versailles, Ky., 1994
31. "Good horsemanship is knowing when to do something and when not to."
Langley, B.C., 1999
32. "The best way to extend the lives of your tools is to use them for what they are designed for. For example, using a hoof pick and wire brush to clean dirt and rocks from a hoof prior to trimming will save wear and tear on your hoof knife, nippers and rasps."
Danny Ward Horseshoeing School,
Martinsville, Va., 2003
33. "I thought I'd done a real good job on a draft horse shoe, but he (the judge, David Wilson, Sr.) didn't like it. I'll always remember him telling me you can build the prettiest shoe in the world, but what counts is how it helps the horse. I'd built this shoe to impress him, not the horse."
Calgary, Alberta, 2000
34. "Don't consider a day without shoeings and trims a day off. It is a day of opportunity to promote yourself and your hoof-care business."
Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School,
Plymouth, Calif., 2009
35. "It's not how much money you make, it's how much money you get to keep at the end of the day."
Harry Patton Horseshoeing Supplies,
Salinas, Calif., 2006