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Ocala, Fla., is a horse capital. With nearly 1,200 horse farms in Ocala’s home county of Marion, the equine industry is big business. According to the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Economic Partnership, the local horse industry generates around $2.2 billion annually. These big numbers have attracted many folks looking for equine-related jobs, including farriers. There are plenty of opportunities among the massive Thoroughbred farms, successful sport horse operations, backyard accounts, Paso Fino barns and the multitude of other breeds and disciplines.
Primarily practicing in the Ocala area, Scott Chandler’s diverse practice that mirrors the variety in Ocala — backyard, show barns, breeding farms and occasionally some Thoroughbreds headed to the racetrack. He also travels to Atlanta, Ga., and southern Florida to handle some high-end sport horses.
During show season, Chandler estimates there are around 400 farriers working in the concentrated Ocala area. There is no shortage of horses for these farriers to work with, but Chandler, who also has worked in Maine and North Carolina throughout his career, finds the attrition rate for farriers higher compared to other places he’s worked.
“There are new farriers who search on Google, see the horse population of Ocala and decide it is a good idea to move here and work,” he says. “But that’s not enough to be a successful farrier — shoeing horses is a lot more than showing up where the horses are.”
Some of it is easy to explain. Like elsewhere, lacking the knowledge and ability to work as a…