After the first couple of years experience, shoeing quality becomes dependent on individual ability, providing the man is working full time shoeing. The average farrier/blacksmith will do over 7000 hooves a year, so the opportunity to develop his skills is obvious. There is no doubt that the older, more experienced a man is, the better his work should be. However, it’s best to judge each individual shoeing.
With the vast number of horses around today, the need for more blacksmiths is being met. These men learn their profession either from school courses which usually run for three months duration, or by apprenticing with another blacksmith. This usually runs from one to three years. The difference is obvious between the two systems but it should also be noted that there are men from both systems doing good work.
The main ingredients for good shoeing are:
- Sound knowledge of the hoof and conformation of the horse and its movement, plus the injuries and diseases that can affect the hoof.
- A complete set of tools that are handled fluently. This includes a forge that is put to use regularly for clips, heels, trailers, and other necessary shoeing benefits.
- A complete supply of shoes and a welding method that can create shoes from basic to corrective work.
- The desire to do a good setting no matter how long it takes. Some days it will only take 25 minutes for a set of four new shoes. On other days a full hour is needed to do the same setting. Time must always be flexible when compared to rigid quality.
- To work at shoeing full time is important in developing the skill required.
- Aptitude is one thing that can’t be overlooked. Some have it, some don’t, but all can learn the mechanical side of shoeing, which if nothing else, will enable a person to evaluate the work they are paying for.
- It definitely is an advantage if you are a horseman and have experience around horses and feel comfortable around them and they you.
It’s worth noting that I have personally known individuals that have shod for many years and the work never became anything but ordinary simply because they were content to get paid and that was their main motivation. I’ve also seen individuals that had been shoeing for only 5-6 yrs. that was excellent because of their passion for this trade.