Bruce Matthews is regarded as one of the top shoers of draft horses. It may be obvious, but he can't stress it enough: draft horses aren't 800 lbs of horse flesh that you can move around.
"Most weigh in at 1000 and up to 2300 lbs.," says the Texas-based shoer. "When they put their leg down, it is there unless you have the skills and techniques to raise the leg and then you need to be able to hold it in one form or another to work on it."
A large draft foot can equal three or four regular-sized hooves. Realize that you will have to invest more time trimming and shoeing these horses. You will also need a larger (and heavier) hand tools. Matthews also warns farriers that they should prepare to spend some time in the forge to work with the steel they will be shaping.
"Before the entrance of the automobiles, farriers had drafts on their books," reminds Matthews. "In today's world, most farriers say no to drafts.
They may have learned to make one draft shoe if they attended shoeing school, and that in many cases is the extent of their draft experience."
Matthews says to fill up your gas tank if you are going to work with these horses.
"Draft horses aren't sitting on every street and around every bend like the smaller breeds, so travel time and mileage will be very different."
More of Matthews advice on breaking into this specialized discipline will appear in the free 2011 Getting Started issue for shoeing school graduates and farrier apprentices.
If you would like a copy of the 2010 edition, contact us, and be sure to provide your mailing address.