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Crouching under a horse and banging on an anvil 8 hours a day, 5 or more days a week wears down the body over years of work. Farriers’ backs become stiff and sore, tennis elbow can develop and carpal tunnel can debilitate hands and wrists. In such a physical profession, any injury can mean time away from work and money lost. These worries may seem like a long way off to farriers who are just starting out, but certain practices put into effect now can help prevent ache and injury later.
Versailles, Ky., farrier Steve Stanley offers his advice for keeping fit in order to prevent injury. Exercising regularly and stretching before and after a long day of work are key, the industry veteran says.
“You take care of your tools, your truck, your machines, but sometimes we neglect the most important tool we have — our body,” he says. “It’s a strenuous job that we do and we take our share of beatings. If you’re hurting enough, your income will be compromised.”
Many farriers are strong, Stanley says, but you don’t have to be big and powerful to be a horseshoer. What you do need to be is flexible.
“I don’t care how strong you are,” he says. “You aren’t going to hang in there if the horse doesn’t want you to.”
Stanley describes the case of an apprentice he had years ago who tried to muscle his way through the work.
“Once I had a…