While each farrier sets the prices he or she charges, Troy Kerr believes farriers don’t really think the process through.

“We tend to set prices for the wrong reasons because our pricing structure is limited by our own narrow-minded thinking,” says the Pueblo, Colo., horseshoer. “Farriers don’t think highly enough of themselves or the service and expertise they provide. This limited thinking gets in the way of establishing the true value of horseshoeing.”

Having shod horses for 28 years, Kerr says it’s important to keep in mind the total cost (both fixed and variable costs) for trimming and shoeing a horse.

“At the beginning of the year, I take all of my expenses for the business and the number of horses I shoe and I divide the two,” Kerr says. “That helps me figure out my base price for trimming and shoeing just one horse.”

With each routine footcare visit with a horse, he starts with the flat charge and then decides what else the horse needs. Sometimes a horse only needs to be trimmed while other times it may need clips or pads along with the shoes. 

Kerr also looks ahead to prevent later concerns and may take preventative measures that he bills for, often doing what the horse needs sometimes before it’s needed so everyone comes out ahead in the end.

Kerr says you need to forget about any pre-conceived notions of what you want to earn or what you think your customers can afford. Instead, look at the pricing issue objectively in order to assess the true value of your footcare work.

Much like professional athletes, farriers are compensated because they are good at what they do. Both athletes and farriers need a high level of physical endurance where they may only be able to do the work for a fairly short period of time.

Since a farrier’s body can break down prematurely due to the hazards of the business, a farrier has to figure out a way to place a price tag on his or her health. So health costs have to be considered as part of the cost of trimming and shoeing.

“You can shoe 10 horses a day if you want to make lots of money, but you won’t be shoeing 10 horses a day for the rest of your life,” Kerr says. “Your financial situation should allow you to be able to make a decent living shoeing only three to four horses a day.”

Read more on the evaluation of your costs in the November issue of American Farriers Journal.