What can you charge?

It’s a question that farriers commonly ask and one that Adam Wynbrandt hears often. His re­sponse?

“I tell them, ‘Well, no, the question is, what do you need to charge?’” says Wynbrandt, who has 2 decades of farriery experience and owns The Horse­shoe Barn in Sacramento, Calif.

Even veteran farriers struggle with finding a winning formula, but Wynbrandt finds there’s a common mistake.

“Most farriers work off of gross in­come rather than net,” says the Ame­ri­can Association of Professional Far­riers board member. “What’s the difference? If you just did six horses for $600, that’s your gross income. That’s all your money. In reality, you have costs, expenses and taxes. The amount of money you have after those expenditures is your net income.”

Basic Shoeing Cost

According to the latest Farrier Bus­i­ness Practices survey conducted by American Farriers Journal, the average nationwide price for trimming four hooves and applying four keg shoes is $120.19. The average charge for trimming and resetting four keg shoes is $113.36. Trim-only prices average $42.06.


Those prices might not work for you and your situation, though. Wynbrandt, for instance, shoes horses in California, which has a higher cost of living than most states. Then again, the prices might indeed fit your lifestyle, you just need to budget your income more efficiently. That’s where Wynbrandt found himself just 2 years into his career. Wynbrandt’s practice was thriving, but he was in for a rude awakening.

“I went in to get my taxes done,” he recalls. “When the accountant told me what I owed, I fainted. It was always a stressful time for me to get my taxes done. So I had to come up with a plan.”

The easiest way to calculate ex­penses, Wynbrandt says, is to figure each stop as a full shoeing — new shoes on the front and hinds. Plugging in the numbers, he details his expenses.


It’s important to include charges that will cover replacement costs for your tools and equipment.

Reducing your drive time and shoeing more horses at one location will put more money in your pocket.

You should have your accountant analyze your business twice a year to make any necessary adjustments.

Your business should have a ratio of about 70% gross income vs. about 30% costs.

  • Shoes: $5 a pair for a total of $10.
  • Nails: 8 cents per nail; six nails per foot for a total of $1.92.
  • Rasp: Over the course of a 5-day workweek, Wynbrandt goes through one $30 rasp to trim 40 horses. Dividing the cost of the rasp by the number of horses, he estimates it costs 75 cents per horse to buy a new rasp.
  • Replacement costs: He recommends setting aside $2.50 from every full shoeing to cover wear and tear on tools and equipment.

Adding up the above expenses, Wyn­brandt finds that it costs him $15.17 in materials.

Your Hourly Wage

Although many farriers find it difficult — both from a financial and a scheduling standpoint — to take some time off, Wynbrandt builds it into his formula when figuring out an hourly wage.

“There are 52 weeks in a year,” he says, “and you’re going to take a 2-week vacation.”

As a result, Wynbrandt calculates total hours based on 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and 50 weeks a year.

“It’s going to be 2,000 hours a year that you will work,” he says. “I know we’ll be short, but I’m covering a baseline. If you’re faster at shoeing horses, you’ll get done in less than 8 hours. This is the easier way of doing it.”

After figuring out the num­ber of hours he would be working, Wynbrandt wanted to arrive at an annual sal­ary.

“How much do you want to make a year — net?” he asks. “Sometimes, people tell me they want to make $1 million. That’s not realistic. I picked $100,000.”

Strategies For Working With Your Supply Shop

Building a loyal relationship with your supply shop can bring more bang for your buck. Adam Wynbrandt is a farrier with 20 years of experience and owner of The Horseshoe Barn in Sacramento, Calif.

Here are a few tips to get the most out of your relationship with your local shop.

  • Discounts. Learning the shop’s discount program will pay off with your bottom line.
  • Buy consistently. When you consistently buy specific brands and types of supplies such as shoes, pads, nails and rasps, the supply shop will always make sure they have what you use.
  • Continuing education. Regular shoppers are kept in the loop when clinics and seminars are scheduled.
  • Sponsorships. A supply shop will be more willing to sponsor functions, fundraisers, competitions, etc., when regular shoppers solicit them.

You can learn more about improving your business by attending the 2016 International Hoof-Care Summit from Feb. 2-5 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Wynbrandt will be leading a roundtable discussion called “Building A Partnership With Your Supply Shop.”

As Wynbrandt alluded to earlier, the key word to consider is “net.” That means he had to earn more than $100,000 a year gross to achieve his goal because taxes, insurance and retirement drops him below his target.

Earning $100,000-plus a year put Wynbrandt in the 10% tax bracket, or about $10,000 a year to Uncle Sam. Insurance can cost you more, especially if you have dependents. Yet, many farriers forgo insurance.

“It’s pretty sad,” he says. “It’s tough and it’s a biggie, but it can be done. Per­sonally, I paid $1,000 a month be­tween my two kids. That’s $12,000 a year.”

If insurance isn’t a priority for many farriers, contributing to retirement ac­counts often has less appeal. Yet, now is exactly the time to begin saving for your golden years.

“If you put $5,500 a year into a Roth IRA, you pay taxes with your contributions,” Wynbrandt explains. “After you reach 62, it’s tax free. If you draw it out at age 65, you would have paid $192,500 into the account and the return on interest would be $1.6 million. Can you imagine if you and your spouse had a Roth? That’s $3 million. It’s crazy.”

After figuring out that Wynbrandt wanted a net income of $100,000, and pay $10,000 a year for taxes, $12,000 a year in health insurance and $5,500 for retirement, he actually wanted to target $127,000 as his net income goal. That means his hourly wage is $63.50.

Vehicle Costs

Your vehicle is the most expensive tool that you own. Given the amount of wear and tear you put it through, it’s also among the most depreciable.

You can replenish some depreciation by claiming mileage or fuel receipts through your annual tax return.

“I took mileage because I was really bad at keeping receipts,” Wynbrandt confesses. “It was easier to write my mileage down when I started the year. On the last day of the year, I wrote my mileage in my other book.”

The Internal Revenue Service permits 56.5 cents a mile, but it doesn’t completely cover your costs.

“Assuming most of us drive 60 miles an hour most of the time, and you get 56.5 cents a mile from the IRS,” he says, “you would have to charge $33.90 for every hour that you are driving in your vehicle to break even.”

When choosing the mileage route, you won’t be permitted to track such costs as tire replacement and oil changes.

“When you take mileage, that’s what you get,” Wynbrandt says. “Now, if you have to get an engine replaced, or something catastrophic, there are ways around that with your accountant.”

That’s not the only vehicle-related charge you should be levying.

“You need to be getting paid for your time while driving your truck,” Wyn­brandt says. “It’s part of your day.”

So, given the formula that Wyn­brandt follows, how much does he charge to shoe one horse?

  • Drive time: A half-hour drive to the barn and a half-hour back will amount to his hourly wage of $63.50.
  • Vehicle cost: $33.90 for 1 hour of drive time.
  • Shoeing supplies: $15.17 to cover a full set of shoes and tool costs.
  • Shoeing the horse: It generally takes Wynbrandt an hour to shoe a horse. His hourly wage is $63.50.
  • Shoeing bill: $176.07 is charged to the client.

“That’s not bad money,” he says. “That’s to break even.”

After working on his system for sev­eral years, Wynbrandt found that cutting down the driving time meant a healthier bottom line.

“If you have the opportunity, you need to work in a tight demographic area,” he suggests. “After running a number of scenarios, I found that just the driving time was changing my shoeings by $20. That’s $20 you can be putting in your pocket.”

It’s worth repeating that these figures are based on Wynbrandt’s business in California. The cost of shoeing supplies, insurance and other expenses might be different where you practice.

You can plug in your own numbers by using an Excel worksheet that was developed by Bob Schantz, a Hall Of Fame farrier and owner of Spanish Lake Blacksmith Shop in Foristell, Mo. You can download the worksheet by visiting Farrier Product Distribution’s website at farrierproducts.com. American and Canadian Associations of Professional Farriers members also can download
it from its organization’s website at professionalfarriers.com.

Analyze Your Business

Many farriers get caught up in the practical side of farriery. They don’t pay enough attention to the business side of their practice and find themselves in a financial pickle.

“You should see your accountant in June and again at the end of the year when you get your taxes done,” Wynbrandt says. “The accountant can tell you that you need to buy something or adjust your finances to avoid paying more taxes than necessary.”

It’s important for the financial health of your family and your business that you recognize when adjustments need to be made.

“I ran it as a business,” he says. “The ratio you’re looking for in a business is about 30% cost and about 70% gross income. So, when you look at what it costs to do your business, if it’s over 40%, you have to raise your rates. If you’re comfortable living on that, that’s fine. It’s just a pretty bad ratio when you exceed 30%.”