If you want to work with horses and the people who value them, farrier school may be the best opportunity for you. Becoming a farrier is a great career opportunity that is often overlooked in today’s horse industry. Farriers work for affluent people who have discretionary income and have the “horse habit.” There are only a few thousand persons doing full time farrier work and many are approaching retirement. While it is true that the work is physically hard, requires focus, and years of practice to become highly skilled, one can get training, get started in business, and be making a good living, in a relatively short time compared to other jobs.
The media has succeeded in scaring many people from venturing into self-employment as evidenced by an article on the front page of section B of USA Today September 8, 2011. The author, Laura Petrecca, says more people are opting to work for wages in light of increased government intrusion and regulation of small businesses. She says that start up money is harder to get with tightened bank lending and the outlook is bleak due to sluggish consumer spending. Those that have lost jobs during the recent depression in our economy are opting for “safer” work instead of self-employment. “Constant news about a difficult economy makes people hesitant to venture out on their own,” she says.
However, no job is safe when you are subject to one other persons’s evaluation of your abilities. Farriers are self-employed. They get most of their business through word of mouth advertising. Many start out with another job and work part time until their business grows enough to be practiced full time. There is a lot to know and it may take many years of learning and practice to achieve the highest skill level. However, the learning curve can be reduced with good instruction and professional coaching.
Farrier work is very physical and for that reason many shy away from it. But if you like animals, have some mechanical ability, and can tolerate and even enjoy the physical exertion required, farrier work may be just the thing for you. The best beginning courses range from 6 to 12 weeks in length. (Courses shorter than 6 weeks don’t provide the preparation needed by most beginners). Tuition is inexpensive enough that you can enroll without debt. A set of the basic tools necessary to begin work will cost less than $2000. Since farriery is one of the last remaining skills that is not regulated by government bureaucrats, you have great freedom in where and how you practice your profession.
Farrier work depends upon you. You are the business. Therefore, you must take care of yourself and spend the time and money necessary to get training and become skilled so you can be all you want to be. You are totally responsible for the outcome. You can be very mobile, and if you stay free from debt, you can be very independent.
Contrast all this with college. In her article, “Ten Things Every Parent Should Know About College,” in the September 2011 Reader’s Digest, pg 138, Michelle Crouch said, “Two-thirds of college students go deeply into debt. Debt takes many years to pay off. If you default, you will be hounded for life by the federal government. The Feds will garnish your wages, intercept your tax refunds, and revoke your licenses – and you can’t ever work for the government or collect social security. In today’s colleges, especially the larger research oriented universities, your classes will be taught by graduate students or adjunct professors, not by experienced practical educators.”
Farrier school gives you a greater value. It takes less time to get foundation training (about 12 weeks or one semester). Graduates then learn on the job while earning income. Tuition and living costs are much less. Instruction is usually of a higher quality and practical. There are usually better learning resources available due to individualized instruction. There is practice time and homework to help you increase your skill and confidence. You work with your hands as well as your mind. You prepare to be an independent business person where you can set your own hours for work and family time.
Not all farrier schools are the same. You must do the research to avoid the remorse that comes with making a decision that is not thoroughly investigated and well thought out.
Do the instructors have sufficient maturity and experience to give you the best value?
Do the instructors have a good reputation in the industry?
Do the students do most of the work on horses or is it done by instructors as demonstrations?
Are there horses to work on every school day?
Are there distractions that make focus on learning difficult?
Is study and practice encouraged during non-class time?
Does the school have a good reputation in the community?
Is the farrier training offered a good value that will help you succeed?
According to The American Farriers Journal 2009 Farrier Business Practices Survey, published in their Getting Started in Hoof Care Career Guide 2009 – 2010, p. 32, the average nationwide farrier income after graduation from a farrier school for part time farriers after 3 years is $15,000, and after 5 years is $13,333. For those who go full time after 3 years, their income averages $35,624, and after 5 years equals $67,299.
In a survey with 448 responses published in the November 2010 issue of the AFJ, pg 18,
$92,000 gross annual income was reported for the average U. S. farrier. He or she handles 267 different horses 7 times a year. They work for 148 different clients. They will see a 20-year-old horse 150 times during its lifetime. Based on a charge of $105 for trimming and applying four shoes this can represent as much as $16,000 during the horse’s lifetime.
The majority of horse owners have more than one horse. Seventy-four percent own 2 to 9 horses while 12% own 10 or more. Two-thirds of the owners keep horses on their own property while others board elsewhere.
Lynne M. Caulkett, in her book Strike of the Hammer – A Guide to Understanding Your Farrier ©2008, pg 24, says “For those willing to take it seriously, and approach it like a real profession, this is a good time to be a farrier.”
The market is there for well-prepared and qualified farriers. We specialize in helping you become a success. Visit us at www.butlerprofessionalschool.com.
Butler Professional Horseshoeing School
495 Table Road
Crawford, NE 69339
If you think you want to become a farrier (or know someone who does), this book can help you make that decision. Horse owners will learn the importance of choosing a qualified farrier and how to select the “right” one.
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