Plus: An endless and never-dull collection of horses of all types, with the opportunity to provide rehab and maintenance for a wide variety of pathologies. Minus: A lot of time in the truck getting to them.
Plus: Some of my most loyal and trustworthy clients are the backyard clients. They are less likely to get involved in barn politics, etc., and tend to be bigger fans of your work. Minus: They generally do not have the budget that wealthier "big barn" clients have.
Backyard horse owners are more loyal. I have some that I have been doing for 20 years, and it becomes more of a friendship. You get invited to all there - stuff birthdays, parties, everything. The down side is you only do 2 or 3 horses, then go to another barn, and the barns are not as nice, and the horses are not as trained as the big barns.
All the horses I currently see are backyard horses. On the plus side, I get to know the owners and the horses a heck of a lot better and the owners tend to listen to the advice I give them more intently. The drawbacks, however, are that the horses are often not as well trained to stand for having their feet done and the owners don't always keep the feet especially picked or cleaned out. I'm constantly finding packed in manure and the beginnings of thrush.
I just started as barefoot trimmer -- no, not a "barefoot Nazi", so go on reading, please. I've been riding for almost 2 months now with a lady who's been trimming feet for longer than I'm alive. Overall, I love backyard horse owners - you'll never see that variety of critters anywhere else. In my 2 months on the road with Dee I've trimmed anything from dwarf miniature horses through retired Thoroughbreds, mules, donkeys, BLM mustangs and draft horses with feet as big as dinner plates. Oh, and a zebu (yes, I do realize that it's a cow, not a horse). I've been involved with horse rescues for years and now that I know how to trim these feet, I can offer even more help to these animals. And my "backyard work" proves to be invaluable experience as I have seen feet of all shapes and sizes and learnt to handle critters where I knew NOTHING of their background and where (more often than not) the owner does not know how to handle the animal. :) I have not made any more yet trimming these feet as I ride as unpaid slave who ;) brings her own lunch, so my opinion may change as I eventually attempt to get me some PAYING backyard critter owners. Regardless, I'd encourage all aspiring trimmers/farriers to start from backyard horses - it's like an accelerated learning program or a boot camp. Once you learn how to handle unruly foal that is 8 months overdue for a trim or a Belgian with "trust issues" that's terrified of just about anything, no show barn will scare you because by that time, you would have seen it all.
— Ilona Chodnicka
If you want less stress and make more money, backyard clients are the best. Make sure they are professional people.
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