Whether you’re interested in actually learning the farriery trade, or simply just looking into the details of how this interesting profession works, the information on this page will serve to advance the discussion of how to properly prepare oneself to become a farrier.
As a full-time second generation farrier I have a unique insight into the industry and encounter this question on a regular basis. If you are truly interested in becoming a farrier, weigh the pros and cons and make sure you know what you are getting into. I’ve listed some of my thoughts and further resources regarding the farrier trade.
Farriery Introduction: You REALLY Love Horses Right?
This job requires some extreme patience and persistence
The question of could or should I become a farrier is pretty common to anyone who has just entered the horse world. Watching the blacksmith forge the horses’ shoes, shaping and nailing them into place can be an engaging experience. There are many reasons to become a farrier, yet many circumstances that WILL inevitably arise are perhaps a drawback.
A farrier realizes at all times that danger is nearby. Even if the situation appears completely calm – you are working on another person’s animal, and even the most friendly horse CAN be spooked.
It is one thing to work around horses, it’s another thing to work under a horse. Keep in mind that there will be lots of horses kicking and biting at you.
The physical demands are enormous. The saying goes that 4 hours of farriery is equal to 8 hours of a heavy construction job. If you have ever picked up a horse’s hoof that is not cooperating and attempted to hold it there for more than a few seconds, you have glimpsed how hard this job could be. Of course, proper handling and setup is part of any good farrier’s work concept.
Hard work is not the only thing a farrier must be concerned with – the actual theoretical body of work that a farrier must digest and experience to become fluent is truly enormous. The UK has a standard that North America does not hold to – enforcing standards of education and apprenticeship.
Unfortunately, the United States and Canada have been very lax in realizing the important role the farrier plays in every domesticated horse’s life. As of this point, anyone can claim to be a competent farrier in North America with no formal certification required by law. Word of mouth is truly the determining factor of most North American farriers careers – if you do good work people will notice, if you don’t do good work, even more people will notice, not to mention the poor horse!
In short, if you are looking into how to become a farrier – keep in mind that you should really have a natural interest and ability with a horse before you decide to go at it full force. A tip would be to ask one of the local farriers in your area to take you out for a day or two, allowing you to do some of the basics to help out. This will give you a slight feel for how an average day may go for you as a farrier.
Study and Experience: Preparing for the Farriers Work Field
Forward Thinking Farriers Constantly Update Their Knowledge
A farriers job is very complicated. With all the theories and varying viewpoints on every single issue to do with trimming or shoeing a horse, it’s important to note that reading all the books and watching all the videos in the world will not truly prepare a person for the farriers work field.
On the other hand, without a constant self appraisal through critical reasoning, the farrier trade would not be what it is today. Scientific studies of this past century have provided enormous advances resulting in a huge body of work for potential farriers to study. Preparing yourself through the study of horse anatomy, the methods for trimming hooves, making, molding, and shaping horseshoes, how to properly apply a horseshoe, and the handling methods involved during the process will help. These are very important factors to study when becoming a farrier.
Apprenticeship is a fantastic way to offset the theoretical training with on-job experience. Seeing the results of applying a particular shoeing package to a horse that was lame and now is not, can be a very rewarding and informative experience. To find a competent farrier in your area(for us North Americans) that is accepting apprentices, it is often advisable to go to the nearest “Farrier’s Supply” store (yes, there is such a thing!) and ask to put up an ad offering to apprentice.
IMPORTANT: There are CONSTANT updates on the leading edge of farriery to do with treatment and application for various conditions of a horse’s movement and hoof condition. The internet has brought this information closer to becoming accessible to all farriers no matter what their location.