Equine hoof care is a close-knit industry. When a group of farriers get together, the conversation generally focuses on sharing knowledge about the foot — lamenesses, shoes, tools, etc.
The passion to improve footcare results in a stronger, more knowledgeable trade. While the practical aspect of farriery grows, there’s another that doesn’t get enough attention — farriery is a business.
I have taught horseshoeing for 40 years to more students than anybody else ever has. Most of my graduates went on to shoe horses professionally and made a living for themselves and their families.
There are a number of ideas and philosophies about what’s important when learning about horseshoeing. The following are my ideas of what you should learn at shoeing school.
I believe it's a tragedy if farriers don't continue to learn. I am grateful that I have recognized that one's skill level can and must continually improve — especially when I look back over my own experience.
Building relationships with clients and knowing when to let them go may sound as easy as saying hello and goodbye, but there are a few things farriers should keep in mind when developing and ending client relationships that can make everything go a little more smoothly.
While a new farrier’s top priority is the care of hooves, you’ve got to be equally concerned with earning a living and dealing with the numerous business aspects of the profession. This means knowing what it really costs you to trim and shoe horses.
The obvious answer includes the price of shoes, nails, pads, adhesives and other items. But there is much more to it than just those costs. In fact, many farriers fail to fully understand how the prices they charge should be determined.
People start businesses for many reasons — freedom, unlimited earnings and many others. They frequently overlook the real responsibilities they will have, including their financial future, both their own and that of the business.
A farrier practice is a business — that is no surprise. As professionals, practitioners have a responsibility to maintain accurate records, schedule properly, bill and receive payment promptly and track performance. At the same time, farriers also should keep records on clients and the type of work conducted on their horses, including photographs of the feet or radiographs shared by veterinarians.
What’s a better way to celebrate the dawn of your farrier career than tool shopping?
There’s no doubt that the temptation runs high to grab the top-of-the-line pair of nippers that are polished so brightly that a pair of sunglasses should come standard with them. While the feel and performance of a high-quality tool often are worth the price, many young farriers have a steep financial mountain to climb when starting out.
Clients who fail to pay for hoof-care services are a problem that every farrier experiences at some point in his or her career.
There are a variety of cases and reasons as to why clients don’t pay their farriers. By understanding the United States government’s definitions of non-payments and reviewing the basics for collecting, you can be better prepared for making sure more of the money you earn gets to your pocket.
Pulling into a farrier clinic is an impressive sight.
A variety of bright, shiny aluminum farrier rigs line the parking lot — truck bodies, drop-ins, caps and trailers — and they don’t come cheap. Aside from your vehicle, your rig will be the most expensive tool that you’ll buy.
As you embark on this remarkable career, it is likely you will shoe horses commonly referred to as “backyard horses.” Some will say this with disdain, but in reality, this segment of the horse population may be the very best kind of horses to be shod — especially in this economy.
There is no argument that farriery is a male dominated industry. Being female is part of my experience as a farrier. To give you a bit of context, in Australia we have trimming schools filled with female recruits. In our farrier schools, of which there are only six, we have a total of four female apprentices over the entire 4 years of study for the country. So in Australia, as a female farrier, I’m rare.
There are few professions tougher mentally or physically than being a professional farrier. I believe the only job remotely close would be that of a professional athlete. The daily repetitive nature of the job and an awkward working posture definitely take their toll on the farrier’s and athlete’s body.
Finishing farrier school means a significant jump — from student to full-time professional and, most often, small business owner.
Farriers with a few years of experience achieving the success they worked hard for know the challenges this brings and their accompanying struggles well — and how to deal with them.
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