Calling ALL farriers- or friends/family of farriers!
Hey all! So here's where I'm at, just curious as to your opinion on being a farrier. How did you become successful? Would you have picked another line of work? Ups and downs of being a farrier? And lastly, how do you feel- if your female, about being a female farrier, is it harder to find work? Easier to find work? Just looking at all aspects of this before I go head over heels into this career choice! Thanks! :)
Friend of farriers here!
GOOD farriers can always find work, and if you are also a reasonable sensible business person, you can make pretty good money.
The more education and professional certification you have, the better. Finding a mentor or acting as a farrier's apprentice after you attend a horseshoer's school is the best route in my opinion.
Network with all the other farriers in the area; they are your colleagues and support network, not your competitors.
The most successful farriers have good customer service skills.
The downsides -
You're self-employed. No benefits, no disability, no retirement. You ain't working, you ain't getting paid.
Physically extremely demanding. Most farriers I know have had at least one back surgery, it's a job that takes a big physical toll.
Can be dangerous. Even more than the wear and tear, there's the risk of serious injury from handling horses. The person who owns the horse that hurt you will feel terrible, and may send you a get well card or bring you a casserole, but they won't pay your bills while you recover. (See "self-employed", above.)
Your clientele tends to be, well, let's just say...eccentric.
I think being a female farrier is much more accepted than it was 20 years ago, there are a couple in my area who are well respected and have a good clientele. Some horsepeople prefer female farriers because of the stereotype that they'll be more gentle or sympathetic to the horses.
The biggest obstacle for a women wanting to become a farrier? Upper body strength. Even very fit, athletic women frequently don't have the upper body strength necessary and struggle during training and apprenticeship.
If you want to consider this as a career choice, I would spend some time at the gym with the help of a trainer getting stronger before you atttempt it.
In this area, even not so talented farriers are crazy busy. The worst part of the job that I have seen is the stress on one's body and injuries. That deterred me from going to farrier school!
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Thanks! :) where I live there is a farrier school accredited through the American farrier association about 45 mins from my house. I know I've got the customer service abilities! Just worried about the best marketing abilities. I plan to speak with barns, but dont want to step on toes, as well I have family that is very well educated in website development, so I will have a site made. Any other tips?
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I second everything that Maura said. A good farrier can pay their own way pretty much anywhere. My brother is a farrier and, even though he had to get a steady job due to family drama, still does it in evenings and on weekends.
Just the other day he was visiting me to trim mine and said that he made over $700 in one weekend and that was after only working for about half a day on each day.
When I was living in the city, my LT was a farrier on his days off. He said it wasn't uncommon for him to make more in 1 weekend shoeing horses than he made in a month working at the unit.
BUT, like has been said; no company insurance, no workman's comp, no sick leave or vacation time, etc. You get hurt, you're just stuck out and it is very hard on a body. It's not as hard as it used to be, since the invention of the hoof jack, but it's still not easy.
Brother complains of elbow trouble after years and years of pounding shoes into shape. Don Baskins (the go-to farrier on the AQHA show circuit for decades), who is a personal friend of my family, is so stove up that he can hardly function. He's had knee and hip replacements and back surgeries galore.
Another thing that most aspiring farriers don't think about is the caliber of horse you'll be dealing with. Jason would often turn down potential clients because they expected him to train their horses to have their feet picked up. Not all horse owners are considerate enough to have a horse that will stand nice and quiet for you to do what you need to do. If the horse does something wrong, they expect you to deal with it, fix the behavioral problem, and still get the job done even if the horse is lunging and pulling back and pawing and kicking and biting.
Now, don't let all these negatives turn you away from it. If it's something that you enjoy, then it will be a very fulfilling and happy job. Brother would still be just shoeing horses if his wife hadn't been insistent about him getting a job with a 100% steady paycheck...even if it's not nearly as much as he was making as a farrier.
Be punctual! If you can't be on time, call. Always call a night or two before the appt to verify. Keep up with new ideas & products as they pertain to your career.Know as much as you can about horse behavior & body language. Study the boimechanics of the horse-some lameness comes from the back or hips not the feet. Know all you can about thrush, WLD, laminitis,navicular, etc. Lots more-I was married to a farrier for 11 years-I heard from so many clients after he died-he was very missed-horses were his passion.
I'm expecting a career choice like this to come with aches and pains- my trainer for the past 3 years has done so much in his 60+ years he has had a double hip replacement. So I know working with horses no matter what area, you can expect some bodily challenges. I am petite so I'm slightly worried about upper body strength with difficult horses, but so far I've never backed down to the toughest of horses I've worked with ha ha.
I did some horse shoeing for awhile as a side job. I wouldn't call myself a farrier just a horse shoer. I ended up quiting though. My problem was I am 6 ft 2 . My back wasn't bothering me but my knees where really starting to ache all the time. I would get home and eat Advil after a day of being under horses. I figured I take enough of a beating at my full time job and had so many years left till retirement I didn't want to get crippled up. Now I just shoe my horses.
Like said earlier, be on time and if your going to be late make a phone call. That really is a big one other than just do your job and do it well.
It is dangerous. I've known one farrier who had a horse rear and land on his leg (broken leg) and another one who was kicked in the head so hard he needed a metal plate put in to hold his skull together. :shock:
It is okay if you want to do your own horse's but other people do not train their horses right and will want to pay you to come get kicked at. I had a friend ask me to do her horses back feet as they were long. Her horse was so bad I told her she had to train him first!
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