It’s been written in this space time and time and time again that the farrier industry is incredibly generous. As the American Farriers Journal staff wraps up production on the 10th edition of Getting Started In Hoof Care, we’re reminded of its generosity once again.
A number of farriers across North America took time out of their busy schedules to contribute and offer advice to the industry’s newcomers in AFJ’s annual career guide. The wisdom ran the gamut including tool maintenance, horsemanship, managing income and taking care of your body.
Roger Newman, owner of SomerSong Forge in Somerset, Wis., suggests taking 30 seconds after nailing up to ensure that you drove good nails.
“You should observe a solid crossover pattern when leading the horse in a figure-8,” he says. “Pay attention! The horse will tell you whether it’s confident. His lack of confidence shows up as a double stepping to the close nail side of the hoof capsule. Pull that nail and medicate the open hole as soon as possible.”
Communication is a skill that Clarence Crumpton believes more new farriers should be taught.
“Farriers, for the most part, are poor communicators, especially when confronted by other horse professionals,” says the Thornburg, Va., farrier. “Poor communication can mean talking too much, not talking enough, not talking concisely, not staying on point, or simply not effective enough. The ability to communicate one’s professional opinion logically, methodically and convincingly so others can understand your point of view directly affects your business’s bottom line.”
Farriery is difficult work, and the business side of it makes it even more difficult.
“I’m afraid that too many shoers fail because they don’t know how to manage their business,” John Russell says. “Most small businesses — about 90% — fail due to mismanagement.”
The Sonoita, Ariz., farrier advises that young farrier be sure that they treat their practice as a business, not a hobby. Russell encourages them to learn more about record keeping matters such as mileage, receipts and other documents that are vital to maintaining appropriate tax-related matters.
Long-time farrier Patrick Ards agrees.
“I wish I would have learned a lot more about the right way to handle my income,” says the Grand Prairie, Alberta, farrier. “The knowledge behind how to successfully run your business is every bit as important as learning how to trim and shoe horses correctly.”
Of course, the little things are just as important.
“Being punctual, returning calls and not overbooking clients will help you run a profitable business,” says Robert Plant, a retired farrier from Walworth, N.Y. “Don’t be afraid to charge enough to earn a living. If a horse owner takes time off of work to hold the horse, he or she will pay a fair price so they’re not stood up.”
Some of this advice might be considered elementary to a grizzled farrier, but every little bit — even if it’s a reminder — will help a new farrier. These farriers and the countless others who work hard to help their colleagues and industry newcomers are why American Farriers Journal created Farriers Week 20 years ago — to say thank you.