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When Mike Givney talks about how he built his Otter Creek Farrier Service of Johnsonville, N.Y., into a successful hunter and jumper shoeing operation, he repeatedly refers to the underlying principles that have become the mainstays of his business: having options and paying attention to details.
OK, that sounds good, but what exactly does he mean in a practical sense, and how do these things help a farrier establish a lucrative niche practice?
“As you build your skills, you’ll be building a ‘farriery vocabulary,’” he explains, “enabling you to look at a horse and know how to shoe that horse appropriately. There’s a lot more to it than tacking on a shoe.”
One of the things needed is a solid understanding of not just anatomy, but how the anatomy works.
“As a professional, particularly working on top hunters and jumpers, you’ll need to have a working knowledge of physiology in order to understand and competently handle the many different situations each horse presents,” he says. “In fact, you should build your skill level every day (when you’re starting out) and not just in one discipline either — specializing will come later. Learn the basics first.”
As an example, he cites his early days, when he was happy to shoe, “any horse who came along.” Having grown up in a small equine conclave in New York where everything from Western Pleasure Quarter Horses to Standardbreds reigned, Givney says he enjoyed a broad spectrum of opportunities…