Getting Started As A Farrier: Shoeing For The Long Haul

There's no doubt farriers must have sound shoeing skills to be successful. But is that all? This shoeing instructor doesn't think so

TOM WOLFE has a secret.

In the 16 years this farrier has taught at the Montana State Horseshoeing School in Bozeman, Mont., hundreds of aspiring farriers have enrolled in his course, hoping to excel at the art of farriery.

Like all schools, some students did better than others when it came to grades.

Not that it matters. You see, Wolfe knows about the correlation between how long a farrier stays in business and how well he or she did in school. Want to know what it is?

There is none.

Wolfe says correct shoeing skills are absolutely essential for the professional farrier. But it’s the business skills that come with it that will make or break a student’s shoeing success.


“At one point, I was applying for a federal grant and we had to determine success rates,” Wolfe says. “The granting agency’s definition of success was how many former students were still shoeing after 5 years. As we were gathering this information, I became interested in those people who were still shoeing and what their backgrounds were.”

Determined to find the connection, Wolfe dug out his old school records. He looked up individuals who were still shoeing and checked their grades in the written, forge work and practical aspects of his class until he came to this startling conclusion: there was no relationship between how well a student did academically and whether they were still shoeing horses.

“In adult education, grades do not fall into the same bell-shaped curve…

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