The life of a farrier is not for everyone, and the knowledgeable hoof-care practitioners who appear on the pages of this 12th edition of the American Farriers Journal’s “Getting Stared in Hoof Care” don’t sugarcoat the challenges that someone who chooses this profession is likely to face.
The graduation ceremony is over. That unforgettable feeling of finishing the first horse without the instructor’s help is still fresh. The former strangers who became close friends during the long days of learning and practicing must now go their separate ways. It’s time to head into the real world of farriery. Where do you start?
The mindset with which you approach your journey into the world of hoof care can often be the difference between fulfillment or frustration with your chosen career.
Adoption of a successful mindset provides beginning farriers with the courage to try new things, learn from experiences and approach their chosen trade without being controlled by fear of the unknown. Let’s look at these ideas and how they can help you develop a successful, fulfilling career in hoof care.
Building a successful farrier practice from the ground up is challenging for many farrier school graduates. They will encounter a variety of struggles, often due to a lack of business knowledge. Failure to make enough money during the first few years, causes some new farriers to leave the field. Also, many don’t have the inner drive needed to build a business.
In an ideal and unrealistic world, horse owners would be model clients with mounts that had perfect conformation and feet. Rather, it’s necessary to ask questions and gain some knowledge about that horse and client before saying “yes.”
Many factors have contributed to Curtis Burns’ success as a farrier over the past 25 years. However, he says one simple rule had the strongest influence on his business.
“I never took on a new client who wasn’t as good or better than my best client,” says the Wellington, Fla., farrier.
Reading the American Association of Professional Farriers Credentialing Study Guide, I came across a quote that impacted me.
“No one cares about how much you know, until they know how much you care,” wrote Mike Hayward.
As your shoeing career pro-gresses, you are going to have clients who raise your blood pressure as soon as you see their name on your schedule. After working hard to build a solid business, getting rid of clients seems to fly in the face of your desire to increase your client base and income. But firing clients just might be what your business and your mental health need.
There are differences in how every farrier approaches his or her business. Still, the most common and effective way to manage the finances of a farrier business remains knowing what it costs to shoe a horse.
The quality of equipment you have will play an essential role in the quality of work you will deliver as a farrier. Equipment also will be one of your main investments when you are just starting out. With so many options and prices that run the gamut, how do you decide what to purchase? Three successful farriers with offer their insight on making smart tool and equipment purchases.
There are a lot of things to consider when starting your own hoof-care business. Insurance protection should be at the top of your list.
According to the 2018 Farrier Business Practices Report, conducted by American Farriers Journal, the vast majority of full-time farriers (95%) have some type of medical insurance. Yet, farriers are woefully underinsured in areas such as life (61%), disability (26%) and liability (46%).
If you control your debt, you control your life. Not all debt is bad, like a lot of gurus will have you believe, especially when you’re running a small business. Sometimes, you have some stuff called good debt, but you just have to be able to control it.
As a self-employed farrier, enrolling in an employer-sponsored retirement plan isn’t an option. You’re on your own and you want to get serious about saving for retirement by opening a dedicated account, but where do you start?
There are many equine professionals that you will work with throughout your career. One of the most important relationships you can build is with equine veterinarians. Together, farriers and vets develop solutions to help the horse. Both need to understand their respective roles to keep the horse’s health above all else — especially egos.
Attending and graduating from farrier school will help you lay the groundwork for a successful career — but if you want to continue to improve in your skills and develop as a hoof-care practitioner, it is only the beginning. Industry leaders point to an increasing emphasis on continuing education and professionalism in the farrier world, and the ongoing need to add to your knowledge and skills.
Farriery is a never-ending journey of hoof-care education. It doesn’t matter how long one has been tending to horses’ feet, there’s always something to learn. There’s no better way to learn than to sit at the feet of your elders and listen as they share their wisdom.
Completing farrier school represents a significant accomplishment. It also represents a significant step as a full-time professional and, most often, small business owner. You will face challenges that will test your resolve. The good news is that there are resources to help — your fellow farriers.
Illinois farrier Vern Powell shares the benefits of looking at feet in terms of steel length instead of a standard factory shoe sizes. It could give you a leg up in a forging competition or when sitting for an examination.
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