Costs to shoe a horse (long) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 08-19-2011, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Costs to shoe a horse (long)

When you search for a farrier, one of the first things that you consider is the cost of shoeing and trimming. Do you really know what it should cost to have your horses trimmed and shod? There are many factors to consider: Is the person full-time or part-time, do they belong to any farriers' organizations, do they have an education (farrier school, college degrees, etc.), and how long has the person been shoeing? A full time farrier may see as many as 11,000 hoofs a year while a part time shoer maybe 500. There can be a big gap in the knowledge of a full time professional and the person down the road who has another job, or the person who went to a two-week course or self study.

We are just now being able to prove that improper trimming and shoeing as a colt, or continued improper shoeing and trimming will lead to lameness earlier in a horse life. The theories in shoeing are changing as we can prove with science study and our new technologies what is going on with the horse in biomechanical movements.

There can be a big gap in price and cost of doing business in shoeing and trimming, between the part timer and just starting out Farrier and the full time Professional Farrier. A lot of part-timers don't carry the equipment or have the shop, don't but and carry any type of insurance.

You may want to check with your attorney or your state workers compensation board. They don't maintain a truck or van just for shoeing, (they use the truck or car to drive to work). Back to the original question:

The answer can be found by calculating costs, just as any other type of business must. In this article, I am going to look at a full time professional farrier, with any other source of income, full or part time job, inheritance, not living at home with parents, spousal support, etc.

SALARY, what the farrier wants to earn for a gross income (before taxes): Beginning Farrier, six weeks shoeing school, $24,000.00 a year, Journeyman Farrier with continuing education $36,000.00 a year and a Master Farrier with continuing education $40,000.00 a year. Add a college degree of four-year BS/Equine Science and add $5000.00 a year to base salary; a six-year degree M/S Equine Science and add $8000.00 per year. If the person has teaching credentials and further education you could add as much as $25,000.00 per year to the base salary. These figures are what the average is outside the equine industry and within the sales force that services the equine industry. So the range of salary for a full time farrier can range from $24,000.00 per year to a high of $49,000.00 per year gross income.

Let us say our farrier is a Journeyman with a four-year college degree. His salary should be at $41,000.00 per year, divided by twelve months = $3416.00 per month, divided by 4.33 weeks in a month = $788.91 per week. Say he is a suburban shoer, working an 8-hour day. His day rate is then $157.78 a day; averaging five horses per day = $31.55 per horse in just labor. But he wants that income for a year. So you need to add the cost of eight traditional holidays (Christmas, New Year, Easter, Labor Day, etc.). Then add a couple of paid sick days per years of service, lets say five days, and a couple of personnel days. So now, instead of 359.8 days a year, he is working 234.80 days at $170.00 per day, divided by five horses = $34.00 per horse. The cost of labor for trims would be $14.16 per horse at 12 a day.

Retirement needs to be planned for the end of a long hard journey of say 20 to 45 years. The farrier should have been putting away 10% of his income which is $341.60 a month, of which the employer, usually, places matching funds. These funds must be figured into the cost of the business of shoeing a horse. The amount came to $4099.20 per year, divided by the number of shoeings of 1,174 = $3.49 per shoeing. Trimming 2,817.60 horses it would increase the cost of trims at $1.27. The costs for just the farriers labor of shoeing is $37.49 per horse. If he is trimming the cost for trimming would be $15.43

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post #2 of 28 Old 08-19-2011, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry, it was so long I had to add on:

Now start the BUSINESS EXPENSE. What expenses, you say! First is the transportation to your location. A van or shoeing truck, new, costs $25,000.00. Driving 200 miles per day = 46,960 miles per year. If it lasts about three years = $8,333.33 per year in replacement cost of gas, tires, maintenance, etc. I will use the average payment to a person using their own car for an employer. This is now 32 cents per mile, or $15,027.20 per year, or $12.80 per horse. Total cost per horse = $19.80. Also keep in mind that any service person coming to your home or office charges a trip charge, such as Sears & Roebuck, local phone companies, plumbers, office machine repair and veterinarians etc. The farrier is the only one who finds it hard to convince an owner that it costs money to come to their place to shoe or trim a horse. Would you the owner, be willing to take the time to catch, load, hook on to your trailer, drive to the farrier? You could add as much as a day 1/2 day of your labor to the labor of your farrier. Is your time worth anything?

Continuing education, this person will attend the farrier's conventions and workshops. Going to a couple of seminars within the year, they will need to figure in travel expense and cost of being away from the business, for a total of 10 days throughout the year, $65,000.00 = $5.53 per horse.

INSURANCE??? Remember a full time professional will carry insurance: Health Insurance at $3,000.00 per year, Care, Custody & Control, $12,000.00, ($100,000.00 per horse) Liability, $25,000.00 per year, ($300,000.00 policy), Truck, $3000.00 per year, Comprehensive on equipment, $1500 per year, Workman's Compensation, $1200 = $10.56 per horse.

EMPLOYEES, to do what? Many, many things: scheduling, bookkeeping, answer the phone, designing and sending newsletters, working in the field with horses, ordering shoes and supplies, answering mail, working with owners understanding what the farrier is doing. At $20,000.00 per year plus insurance, vacation, taxes, Worker's Compensation = $26,000.00 per year = $22 per horse. Also remember that even if a farrier doesn't hire a person to do this work, he will do it himself or hire someone outside the business, such as a C.P.A. (my C.P.A. charges $120.00 per hour, my attorney charges $195.00 per hour) or H & R Block, temporary office help, etc. Remember, time is money; whether under a horse or in an office, he or she is still working, because of your horse. A lot of farriers forget to figure this part of the business as labor.

OFFICE EXPENSES, in home of $2600.00, phone (incoming and outgoing lines, 800 number) = $6,000.00 per year. Replacement of office equipment (ink cartridges, paper, computer parts, etc.), and repair $1500 per year = $8.60 per horse.

ADVERTISING & MARKETING, $5,000 per year, (business cards, newspaper ads, flyers, postage, reminder cards, horse flairs, etc.) per year = $4.25 per horse.

REPLACING LOST, DAMAGED AND USED EQUIPMENT, (forge, gas tanks, hand tools, apron, rasp, shoeing knife, etc.), $200 per month = $2.74 per horse. How many times has your shoer dropped or left something behind?

TRADE PUBLICATIONS, subscriptions (Wisconsin Horseman, Farrier Journal, Hoof & Lameness, Michael Plumb's Horse Journal, Equus, Western Horsemen etc.) $300 per year = .25 per horse.

MEMBERSHIP in trade association, WBFA, AFA, $300 per year = .25 per horse.

Cost of keg shoes and nails $6.75 per horse. Specialty and therapeutic shoes, hot forging all add additional costs.

The total cost of shoeing your one horse is $127.88. If your farrier is just trimming horses, you would deduct the cost of shoes which would leave you at $121.13, divided by three horses, $40.37 per horse. A person can usually trim three horses at the same time needed to shoe one horse.

IF THIS IS A TRUE BUSINESS we have only talked about expenses and not about the business of making a profit. Paying a salary to owner and any employees is not making a profit for the business. Any business owner wants to make a profit on the money they have out into the business. A fair profit is 13% on investment. Add another $16.24 on the cost of shoeing or a total of $144.50 to shoe and $45.61 to trim a horse.

THE LAST ITEM TO ADD IS SALES TAX, yes some states such as Wisconsin charges sales tax. Often it adds another five percent to 6 percent to the cost of shoeing. Depending in what county you live in. In this case we will use the five and one-half percent or $7.94 to the cost of shoeing. Making it $152.44 per horse. Trims, again using the five and one-half percent making it $2.25 to the cost of trimming total $47.88 to trim.

One thing you will need to remember, other items do run the cost of shoeing and trimming up. If you are the one, two, three horse owners, or out in the country and you cannot put a group of horses together for the farrier to spend the day, travel expenses increase. If you are a long way out, he has a lot of travel time and possible overnight expense. Or if your horse has a problem about standing quietly for the farrier and it takes longer to shoe or trim, he cannot complete as much work; time is money to your farrier. As a rural owner you should expect to pay a higher rate than at a barn or an area that has a lot of horses in it, just as you should if you have hard to handle animals.

Also, think about the quality of the farrier's work. How much work experience and further education does the person have? Does he do a lot of therapuetic work? Is he in demand? Is he working after hours or on weekends and holidays? The question I ask is do you, the horse owner, receive overtime, night bonus, holiday pay? Remember that most full-time farriers start early in the morning and are expected to work when you get home from your job in the evening. Some will work 20 hour days. Horse shoeing is not a hobby for them, it is a full-time profession. They really care about your horse and what is best for that horse. A lot of full time farriers will work a double shift because they cannot expect to receive the true cost of shoeing or trimming your horse. Now other things can bring the cost down. For example, is he part-time not running a true business, cutting corners on expenses, or is there another full-time job covering some expenses, such as personal insurance, it is the family van or truck, instead of company equipment? Is he young and living at home with parents? Is he only staying within a few miles of the home? Do you bring the horse to them? Does he only do one or two horses a week for extra money, by that keeping the cost down?

Remember that a full-time professional farrier will see a lot more problems and triple the number of feet that a part-time farrier will see. The proper insurance will be in force to protect both the owner the farrier. And he will definitely have a better understanding of the equine.

Now you know why a lot of farriers and horse shoers go and come; very few can afford to stay in the business. The full-timer soon learns that he can go to work as a truck driver and make $35,000.00 per year, or a brick layer at $35.00 per hour plus benefits. Plus have evenings, holidays and weekends off.

Never getting kicked, bitten of pawed are added benefits. Your full-time professional farrier also becomes an extra set of eyes. He will look at your horse in an independent objective way, giving you insight as to what is happening with the entire animal. He may spot problems that you have not seen. By seeing the horse regularly, he may identify changes taking place that you should contact a veterinarian about. As a owner, this input is invaluable.

So the next time you shop for a shoer because yours is no longer in business, think about why. He has probably gotten tired from working double shifts or found a better job. Those that stay in are usually there for the love of the horse.

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post #3 of 28 Old 08-19-2011, 02:37 PM
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There is a very real possibility of injury also. In some states, the horse owner is liable, in some not, if the farrier is injured. It is actually possible that a horse owner could sue a farrier (or veterinarian) if they are injured by their own horse however dumb that sounds. This is based on the farrier (or veterinarian) being a horse expert and the horse owner not being a horse expert. The theory is that the horse expert should warn the owner of danger. Both your farrier and your veterinarian will most likely have a lot of insurance expenses. So if you think they are too expensive, remember that they have to make a living.

State laws about liability
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post #4 of 28 Old 08-19-2011, 02:51 PM
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I like that Celeste. There are many people who think their farrier is so expensive. Or why the price of trimming or shoeing goes up or should go up. When everything else in the world goes up (price of tools and such, fuel and insurance), the farrier needs to compensate for those costs.
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post #5 of 28 Old 08-19-2011, 02:54 PM
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My farrier gets a large portion of my discretionary income. I take his pay out of my check before depositing it into the bank for living expenses. He is well worth it.

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post #6 of 28 Old 08-19-2011, 03:30 PM
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A good farreir is worth their weight in gold. They can either make or break all your time and effort you do with your horse. I have so much respect for my farrier that it is worth going the extra distance to make their life easier.
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post #7 of 28 Old 08-19-2011, 04:01 PM
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Thanks for sharing Anvil. I know a lot of folks who don't realize what it entails and take their farrier for granted. Farrier & Vet come right after my daughter's pediatrician on my list of important folks outside of family.

As mishap said, a good farrier is worth their weight in gold. After our farrier of 20 years retired it took me almost 2 years and trying 9 different ones to find a keeper. He's got me on his calendar every 6 weeks booked out for the next 2 years. He does all 11 when he comes each time and I realize it is grueling work and appreciate every minute of his time. When it got so ridiculously hot this year I put an a\c unit in my tack room - for the farrier. If he was to get hurt by one of my horses, you could make a safe bet I'd be covering his expenses via my farm policy. No hoof, no farrier, no hoof.
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post #8 of 28 Old 08-19-2011, 04:54 PM
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Before I got my horse, I started interviewing farriers. I think I spoke to 10 or so within the area. I asked them their rates, if they were experienced with natural hoof trimming and if they were comfortable working with a yearling that might be anxious about having his hooves trimmed. Of those 10, only 6 took the time to answer my questions carefully and politely or in some case, even return my calls. One tried to push hot shoeing on me without ever seeing my horse and attempted to tell me I knew nothing for wanting to keep him barefoot.

Of those 6 that passed my initial test, only 3 would provide references that I could talk to. Two came highly recommended and I was warned to steer clear of the 3rd for reasons including: trimming the toes too far and the horse coming lame, trimming unevenly causing soreness, never showing up on time to appointments, cancelling with no notice, etc.

Of the two remaining, one dealt primarily with barefoot trimming and the other could do hot shoeing. At this point in time, I opted to go with the experienced barefoot trimmer. When she came out to actually meet and trim my horse, she cleared her afternoon just in case. There was no rush, she showed up on time and she was very patient with my gelding. He was a little unsure of what she was doing and she accepted his antics with a grin and a quick pop on the shoulder when he misbehaved. She was efficient and managed to get all his feet done within an hour. She cleaned up after herself and added me to her rotation every 6 weeks.

Her rate: $35/trim + one-time mileage fee ($10). Because he was difficult, I paid her an even $60. Overall, she was well worth it and I’m very happy with the work she did. What really impressed me was the fact she took the time to check in about 4 days after his trim to make sure he wasn’t sore or favoring a leg because he did try to wrench one of his fronts out of her hand and she was worried he could have strained something. He was fine, but I was very impressed that she took the time to check in.

I don’t mind paying for a service done well. Farrier and vet care is very important and I take my time in finding people I can trust.
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post #9 of 28 Old 08-19-2011, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Courtney View Post
... When she came out to actually meet and trim my horse, she cleared her afternoon just in case.
This would be a huge red flag to me. Not to disparage your trimmer, but what professionals do you know that will clear their entire afternoon to earn a $35 trim fee? It makes no sense at all and suggests that this person has very few clients/horses. That further suggests her experience is commensurately limited.

Great that she impressed you with her patience and people skills but odds are you got suckered by a part timer with little experience and little ability to help should your horse ever need more than a simple trim.

What really impressed me was the fact she took the time to check in about 4 days after his trim to make sure he wasnít sore or favoring a leg because he did try to wrench one of his fronts out of her hand and she was worried he could have strained something. He was fine, but I was very impressed that she took the time to check in.
She honestly believed there was some risk that her grip on a horses leg may have contributed to some possible strain? I'm over 6 feet tall and can bench press my weight and a lot more. Any attempt to "strain something" on a horse would have to be willful and lucky.

I donít mind paying for a service done well. Farrier and vet care is very important and I take my time in finding people I can trust.
Glad you're happy with your trimmer and the service she provides and I in no way mean to disparage your intent but... the fact is, no professional, full time farrier can (not will, but can) afford to clear an entire afternoon just to see a horse in need of a trim. It makes neither business nor practical sense and should have been a significant indicator to you.

If this seems unreasonable, compare it to finding a veterinarian. Ask yourself, would any credible vet anywhere in the country clear their afternoon to "meet and greet" with one horse and administer some minor $35 service? Honestly, they won't do it for ten times that cost. Not because they're mean spirited, greedy or uncaring. They wouldn't because, from a business perspective, they simply can't. At least, not if they intend to stay in business for any length of time.

Again, if you're happy... great. My concern would be, what happens when your horse really needs more and the trimmer can't deliver. What are you going to do? A short notice call to a busy, reputable and skilled farrier, to ask for emergency assistance for your trimmer managed horse is likely to be answered with.... "please leave a message and we'll get back with you as soon as possible"... which may not be as soon as your horse needs, if ever.

Case in point. A horse owner engages a vet to examine her horse who suddenly presents lame. The vet diagnoses the lameness and prescribes an adjustable patten bar to reduce/prevent weight bearing with reduced elevation over the next few months. Your trimmer has neither the skill, experience or tools to meet the veterinarians prescription. Guess who suffers?

It's like choosing a homeopathic practitioner for health care and having no regular MD for your family to rely upon. When you need more than green tea and warm hugs, you'll likely find yourself at the emergency room of a hospital paying 10 times (or more) the cost for service.

It's a situation that merits at least some reasonable consideration.

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post #10 of 28 Old 08-19-2011, 08:14 PM
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Maybe the trimmer had a slow day. It happens.

I spend around $350 every six weeks and it still may take a day to get my farrier out for an emergency. He is busy.

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