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ONE BITTERLY COLD afternoon last winter, I received a telephone call from the U.S. Census Bureau. The official asked how many horseshoers there are in the States and I gave her what I thought was our best estimate.
I’d always figured that if anyone knew how many people there were in any occupation it would be the Census Bureau. She told me that wasn’t the case with many lesser-known occupations.
Other phone calls in recent months asking about farrier numbers actually sparked the idea for this column. But before we give you our “best guess” as to farrier numbers here in the States, we want to share a few unsubstantiated “numbers” we’ve heard this year:
• 10,000 full- and part-time farriers.
• 12,000 full-time farriers.
• 20,000 farriers.
• The Internal Revenue Service has a “secret” list of 34,000 farriers.
• 40,000 farriers.
• 70,000 farriers.
Before I offer the latest word—actually only our staff’s “best guess”—as to the number of full-time and part-time farriers—let me tell you how we arrived at our figure.
Five weeks after we purchased the American Farriers Journal in 1992, I attended a Farrier Industry Association dinner during the American Farrier’s Association convention in Daytona, Fla. I sat next to Walt Garner, who was still active in those days in the operation of G.E. Forge & Tool Co. at Grover Beach, Calif.
When I asked how many farriers there were in the U.S., Garner told me he’d spent 3 years researching…