Make Shoeing a Business, Not an Alternative Lifestyle

Freedom is great, but you have to manage your income and expenses to earn a long career and a comfortable retirement

Even if you love shoeing for a living, remember that you’re in it for the money, warns farrier Brian Robertson of Owosso, Mich. “When you wake up in the morning, you have got to be a businessman; from the minute you wake up until the minute you are off the clock,” he says.

Robertson started shoeing horses in 1971 and made it a full-time career in 1973. He remembers the mentality of the not-so-good old days when many farriers enjoyed the freedom of their chosen work, only to find that independence didn’t pay the bills. “Thirty years ago, horseshoers were gods, or thought they were gods. They had that alternate lifestyle. They were out of corporate America and out of hourly jobs,” he says.

But if farriers think they’ve left the business world behind, they’re doomed to fail, and most of them do, he adds. “They don’t fail because their product or service was bad, they fail because they are poor businessmen. Being a successful shoer requires more than having a spouse with a great job. If that’s your plan, you are in serious trouble. Basically, you’re subsidizing the horse industry,” he says.

The Foundation

Robertson offers detailed advice about succeeding as a horseshoer. It begins with recognizing that farriery is a service business, no more and no less.

“All the rules of business apply. If you don’t follow good business practices, you are going to fail,” he says. “You can be the best horseshoer in the world, but if…

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Ron perszewski

Ron Perszewski

Ron Perszewski is a freelance writer and former associate editor of Ameri­can Farriers Journal.

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