The classic farrier rig could be defined as a self-contained horseshoeing supply shop and work space built into a truck. Some farriers, though, find it more economical to work out of a trailer that can stay at home when they’re not shoeing.
With a miniature farrier shop sitting in your truck, the massive weight of the vehicle and its contents often leads to poor fuel economy and a full-time taxing of the engine.
Good, Bad Ideas
There are drawbacks to keeping all your tools and supplies in a trailer. A separate rig may be more difficult to maneuver in barns, alleyways or when backing up a long driveway.
“However, trailers are like riding a bike,” says Brent Chidsey of Stone Well Bodies & Equipment in Genoa, N.Y. “Once you get used to it, getting around becomes second nature and is no big deal. Just ask any big rig driver.”
He says a quality shoeing trailer will hold its value longer and is easily saleable if your shoeing needs or lifestyle change.
However, a shoeing trailer is another piece of equipment to maintain, with its own tires to wear out and tail lights to burn out. But there are many advantages.
“It frees up your truck,” says John Claudon of Anvil Brand Shoe Co. in Lexington, Ill., which sells shoeing trailers made by Jamco. “We’ve sold more than a dozen trailers and every farrier who bought one loves it.”
The Jamco trailer’s floor is easily removable after you arrive at the shoeing site, so the farrier can step into his workshop on wheels and have plenty of headroom. The anvil, forge, shoes, other supplies and tools are within easy reach. A new Jamco trailer can cost $12,000 to $15,000 by the time options and supplies are added.
This trailer is available as an empty shell or can be purchased with built-in shelving and racks. None of Claudon’s customers bought the trailer empty. In fact, most had him stock the trailer with shoes, nails and other supplies.
“When a shoer is on the job with this trailer, he doesn’t have to unload his anvil at every stop,” Claudon says. “He just opens up the doors and he’s ready to work. It takes longer to find an electrical outlet in the barn than it does to get the trailer opened up and ready for work.”
Personal Preferences Count
Sarah Schwarz, president of Monetta Farrier Specialties in Monetta, S.C., says the choice between buying a truck or a trailer for shoeing is often personal preference or simple economics.
Someone just starting as a farrier, she says, may be more likely to buy a trailer because they can only afford one vehicle for personal and business use.
“High-end farriers who make more money can afford one truck for shoeing and another truck or car for personal travel,” she adds. “Somebody new to the business often can’t afford more than one truck, so they hook up the trailer for shoeing and unhook it when they don’t need it.”
Monetta recently introduced a trailer for farriers in addition to its line of pickup truck bodies.
“A farrier with a fully-equipped truck rig can get a business tax deduction for the entire cost of buying and operating the vehicle,” Schwarz adds. “The farrier pulling a trailer can deduct the full cost of the trailer, but probably only part of the cost of operating the vehicle.”
Trim, Shoe More Horses
Chad Chance of Dallas, Texas, believes his trailer saves substantial shoeing time. When he arrives at a barn, it take only a few minutes to set up for efficient shoeing.
“I can do a half to a full horse more a day with my trailer compared to a truck,” he says. “It’s more efficient because everything is within a few feet of where I’m standing.
“If your shoeing work is spread over many miles, a trailer will often work better because you can save on gas.”
Chance installed several fans in the trailer to beat the Texas heat and added a remote-controlled car stereo system for background music. “When someone comes into the trailer to talk, I use a remote to turn the music down from where I’m working,” he says.
A trailer gave Alden, Iowa, farrier Jeff Smuck extra room for supplies. He carries 400 pair of shoes.
“I was shoeing so many kinds of horses when I used my pickup that I found myself not carrying the wide variety of shoes I needed,” he says. “My truck was overloaded with weight from the supplies I hauled around and I still didn’t have everything I needed.”
The walls in Smuck’s trailer are double-walled aluminum that provides needed strength to hang shelves and bins for holding tools and supplies. While the trailer comes with a 20-year warranty, Smuck believes it will last the rest of his shoeing career.
One farrier got so tired of trading in old trucks and moving his shoeing body to a new truck that he designed a compact trailer.
Roger Newman of Somerset, Wis., received so many positive comments about his first trailer that he set up SomerSong Forge Trailers and started selling them to other farriers.
“Once the farrier and I work out the design,” Newman says, “it takes six to eight weeks to build a custom trailer.”
Depending on the features, the trailers sell for $7,000 to $9,400. Newman says the opened wingspan of his trailers is narrow enough to fit in the aisle of most horse barns. A low profile and compact size make it easy to pull and the dual-axle design offers stability on the road and protection against tire failure. Optional features include a swing-out anvil stand, interior lighting, drill press and built-in cabinetry.
Start With Horse Trailer
For shoers who want a walk-in shoeing shop, Chidsey says buying a horse trailer without stalls offers a great shell for a shoeing trailer.
“It’s closer to the ground than a body mounted on a truck and is available with a ramp which makes it easier on your legs, knees and back,” says Chidsey.
During a trailer’s design phase, manufacturers can adjust the height of the working deck for your height. “It can be adjusted to 36 to 38 inches for tall shoers or 32 to 34 inches for vertically challenged shoers,” laughs Chidsey.
No More Trucking
Brian Gnegy maintains he’ll never go back to shoeing from a truck. “I can back my trailer into an alleyway entrance and keep the sun and wind away from where I’m working. It’s like having your workshop right at the barn.” says the Howell, Mich., farrier.”
His Pace utility trailer is 7-feet wide, 13-feet long and 6 1/2-feet tall. He’s got only $3,500 invested with his modifications in the trailer that came with a plywood lining, low-voltage lights and brakes. Insurance costs are extremely low.
He added workbenches and mounted shoeing equipment in the trailer. His anvil and forge are mounted on swing-out arms which makes it easy to set up the trailer for shoeing at each barn.
“The forge heats up the trailer fast in the winter even with below-freezing temperatures,” he says. “I insulated the ceiling of the trailer to keep cool in the summer.”
But in Michigan’s snowy winters, he finds it’s critical to use a four-wheel-drive truck to pull the trailer.
Veteran shoer Lee Liles used to pull a small shoeing trailer behind his motorcycle. While the Sulphur, Okla., farrier and horse trainer doesn’t shoe out of the fancy trailer he now pulls behind a Harley-Davidson, it’s similar to his shoeing trailer.
“I used to ride from Little Rock to Dallas on my motorcycle with the shoeing trailer hooked on behind,” he says. “I’d get a sense of freedom from riding to the next shoeing job on the cycle. I could ride from Little Rock to Dallas to shoe horses and back for less than $25 of gas.”
Liles had a shoeing account located 100 miles from home. “If they wanted simple shoeing work done, I’d hop on my motorcycle and pull the trailer up there,” he says.
“You can’t believe how easy it is to put your tools and shoes in a trailer pulled by a motorcycle and go to a barn and work.
“Some people golf and some folks water ski. When I wanted to do something different, I’d hook up my trailer, get on my bike and drive across the countryside to the next shoeing job.”
Pulls Two Trailers
Ocala, Fla. shoer Jan Sutter shoes from a Jamco trailer. He and his wife attend horse shows–his wife enters events while he shoes horses.
“I hook up both the horse trailer and my shoeing trailer and pull them at the same time with my truck,” Sutter says. “If I don’t plan on doing any shoeing at a show, I leave the shoeing trailer home and just pull the horse trailer.
“When I had a truck with my shoeing supplies, I was always forced to take it along whether I was shoeing or not.”
Sutter likes the way his shoeing trailer sets up. With the floor removed, it features a 6-foot ceiling with a 12- by 6-foot work space.
“My drill press, grinder and anvil are all within easy reach,” he says. “It’s handy having everything so close. And I never have to take my anvil out of the trailer like I did when I had a truck.”
From 18 To Two Wheels
After shoeing out of a truck for two years, Dan Johnson switched four years ago to a low-cost trailer. His $1,700 Hallmark rig is 5-feet wide, 10-feet long and 6-feet tall. Although the trailer is small, Johnson can walk inside to operate a drill press and other tools.
Except for its steel frame, the trailer is aluminum. The single-axle trailer features rubber-tension suspension instead of springs. A generator mounted on the front handles 110 or 220 volts.
The aluminum sides are painted black to match Johnson’s truck. To resist unnecessary heat buildup in the trailer, the aluminum roof was left unpainted.
“When I unhook the trailer at the end of the day, I’m done,” says the Brookville, Ind., farrier. “I don’t sacrifice my truck as it can be used for things other than shoeing. After unhooking the trailer, I can haul hay or other supplies.
“You can back it into a barn alleyway and go right to work. Having driven an 18-wheeler coast-to-coast before becoming a farrier makes backing up my trailer a piece of cake.”
Truck, Trailer, Truck
Bernard Pelletier says it’s nice to shoe from a trailer because you still have your truck available for other things. But the Brandon, Fla., farrier believes using a trailer in northern areas in the winter might be tough because of snow and ice.
He keeps a small “spare” trailer at home. “If my shoeing truck breaks down and has to spend a week at the dealership, I can keep shoeing.” he says. “I’ll rent a truck, hook up my trailer and keep shoeing.”