What do you do for a living?
I’m a Farrier.
How would you describe what you do?
A Farrier is someone that put shoes on horses and corrects faults in the foot.
What does your work entail?
Well, my job entails me showing up at someone’s house, or them coming to my shop to get shoes put on their horse, or trim their horse’s foot, whichever the case may be. You can set your own hours because you work for yourself. It’s probably about 50 or 60 hours a week because when you get home you’re not done, you’ve got to answer calls that come in from clients later on.
How did you get started?
Well, how I got started in this is I was cleaning tile floor down in Little Rock and I couldn’t find anyone down there that’d come and shoe my old ex-wives horse.
From the leg down a Farrier probably knows more about a horse’s anatomy than a Veterinarian.
I was tired of working at night so I went to shoeing school. And I’ve been shoeing off and on for the last 17 years.
What do you like about what you do?
I like working with the animals. I’d rather work with the animals than people. Because I get along with animals, I understand the animals. That horse won’t lie to me, someone else will. I enjoy the freedom that it gives me, because if I decide that I want a day off, I schedule myself the day off. I can do that pretty easy. You know, my back hurts pretty bad on Saturday when I get done, and I say, “Man thank God I’m done for the week.” But when Tuesday rolls around I’m ready to get right back under it because I enjoy doing this.
What do you dislike?
People not showing up(for appointments). People not doing what they say they’re supposed to do. You know they hold me to the standard, but they don’t hold themselves to one. If they want me at their house at nine o’clock, I better be there at nine o’clock or within 15 minutes or I get talked bad about.
You need to be healthy to do this, there’s an old saying in the Farrier trade ‘you’ve got to have a stronger back than mine’…
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I charge per horse. I charge $65 on the road to shoe, and $35 on the road to trim, and if it’s over 15 or 20 miles I charge them a trip charge. I try to keep that down to, but with gas being what it is, it can eat my profit up in a hurry. The way I price stuff is I have a philosophy about a living. I want to make a living, I don’t want to kill people, but I want to make a comfortable living. And I try to do that, I try to setup where I can pay all of my bills, and have a little bit extra. I don’t always get that accomplished, but I try.
How much money do you make?
About $30,000. But the sky’s the limit on what you can make.
I’d rather work with the animals than people. Because I get along with animals, I understand the animals. That horse won’t lie to me, someone else will.
You can go into corrective and charge $250 an hour like a surgeon, but you’ve got to be where the horses are(Kentucky, etc).
What education or skills are needed to do this?
There’s a lot of trade schools out there that teach this. You don’t have to go to school, you can climb into a truck with someone that is good and learn, but it would behoove you to go get your basics because they’re going to teach you more about anatomy at the school than you’re going to learn from someone. You need to be healthy to do this, there’s an old saying in the Farrier trade “you’ve got to have a stronger back than mine,” it’s physically demanding.
What is most challenging about what you do?
The corrective part of it and dealing with clients misconceptions. People have a misconception about how horses should be. They all think they know what the horse needs. And what a horse needs varies from show people, to ropers, to cutters, to just standard trail riders.
What is most rewarding?
When you have one limp in and he walks off when you get done. That’s pretty nice.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Run, run hard. No, just kidding. If a person wants to learn bad enough they’re going to be right there to soak it up. You know it’s just one of those things it just depends on the people. How bad they want something. I don’t want to work for somebody else bad enough I’m not going to do this. This job is not for somebody that needs someone to help start them every morning, because it is so physically demanding that on Saturday it’s hard for me to get going.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That it’s easy to do. It’s not easy to do. And that a Farrier just changes the shoes. From the leg down a Farrier probably knows more about a horses anatomy than a Veterinarian.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
Well right now there’s an association called the American Farrier’s Association. And I’m in pursuit of my Journeyman(the highest certification in the country).
What else would you like people to know about what you do?
I don’t know, you know there’s a lot of learning to this job and I haven’t learned it all in my almost 17 years I’ve been shoeing. There’s a lot of clinics that I look forward to going to every year because I can better my knowledge, and the better knowledge I have the better these horses and people benefit from it.