Several years ago, Kevin Archer started charging a farm call fee. “Anyone else in a service-related business that makes house or farm calls charges simply to show up and farriers should be no different,” says the farrier from Ashville, Ohio. “If we want to be respected as professionals, we need to place a value on our time and travel.
“Our biggest expenses are our rigs and what it takes to get us from barn to barn. It only makes sense for us to charge for these expenses.”
Archer finds area horse owners tend to fall into two groups. “One group values quality work, professionalism and dependability,” he says. “The other group seems to value a cheap job done fast.”
“They acquired some shoeing tools and decided they could pick up some extra beer money shoeing horses,” he says. “They charge less than what it really costs to shoe a horse and cheapen the reputation of farriers because of a lack of professionalism.
“In my early years, I often had to deal with comparisons of what I charged vs. what these guys were charging. But eventually skill and professionalism won out and my business flourished.”
He cites factory-made shoes as the biggest footcare innovation. When he started shoeing, only a few companies made horseshoes and they offered few styles. He says that’s dramatically changed with so many shoeing options today.
“These products have given me greater efficiency and flexibility,” says Archer. “While it might still be necessary to occasionally forge a shoe for a specific issue, most jobs are accomplished by modifying a factory-made shoe, saving time and therefore making me more efficient and profitable.
“I also owe much gratitude to the American Farriers Journal for keeping me up to date on the latest developments in the horseshoeing industry. I only wish I had known about AFJ from the beginning of my career, as it was 8 or 10 years before I discovered this fine publication.
“I have received great benefits and enjoyment over the years from reading the magazine cover-to-cover. It’s a rare issue that I don’t learn something new that I can’t put into practice in my business.”
Like many others, Archer sees major improvements in communication.
“When I started shoeing, farriers in my area were basically out there on their own and rarely saw each other,” he says. “Each farrier viewed the others as competition and didn’t associate or communicate with them. But as clinics and contests became more available, farriers began to network and bounce ideas off each other. Then local associations started popping up and farriers finally had a way of connecting and supporting one another.”
Archer has always had good communication with veterinarians. “I was only 18 when I started shoeing,” he says. “Maybe because of that, I had great respect for their input and opinions as it pertained to shoeing issues. I had a lot to learn and was glad to learn from them.
“In time, it became a two-way street with the vets asking my advice and respecting my opinions. They then began to refer their clients to me when a shoeing issue came up.”
Over the next 10 years, Archer hopes the farrier industry will become more professional.
“On one hand, we prize our independence and don’t want government interference,” he says. “On the other hand, we have no way of regulating ourselves and no way of requiring people that simply call themselves farriers to have any real knowledge as to what they are doing.
“I don’t know what the answer is, but until we address this aspect of our industry, we will continue to lack the respect that we seek as professional farriers.”