It’s great being your own boss until you need someone to take care of you. As a farrier, you can take as many sick days as you like – they just don’t pay like working days do. In the interests of minimizing your sick days and your health care costs, here are some things you can do every day (and some things you can start to plan for those rainy days) to keep yourself in good fighting shape.
Whatever. Stop smirking. We’re all past that now. Yoga is a real thing that all sexes do to improve flexibility, strengthen core muscles and increase stamina. Everything you do in yoga classes is also what farriers need to do in their daily jobs. Think about it. Holding uncomfortable poses for long, long, long times in perfect balance? Yes. Yoga has much to teach you. Long time yoga practitioners swear that yoga has protected their joints by increasing their range of motion. It also strengthens bones, in addition to lowering stress and boosting the immune system. So all of that probably outweighs any worries you might have over making an ass of yourself in a room full of people who are better at yoga than you. Plus you really don’t have to wear yoga pants. You can wear what you like.
Massage and Chiropractic
This always seems like a great idea, doesn’t it? A nice massage, preferably by a pool, or on your own personal lilypad somewhere. But then life and work get in the way and back care gets put off. Too often farriers only go for massage or chiro when something’s gone wrong. It’s pretty ironic that that happens in this field, where horse owners will get their horses massaged regularly like athletes when the hardest thing the horse is doing is trotting over a pole three times a week. You use your body every day. Without it…well…ok nobody performs at their professional best without a body, but that’s especially true of you. Massage and chiro aren’t cheap, but keeping your back in good working condition is the best investment you can make. Even better than keeping your truck in shape. I mean, you can always borrow another truck.
Hit the Gym
Yes, a farrier’s job is a workout and yes, you’re tired at the end of a day, but that doesn’t mean you’re in perfect shape or that you’ve done a healthy workout. Because farrier work is so specific, you’ll do the same movements and hold the same poses over and over. Some muscle groups will become very strong, obviously, but not every muscle group will be. Since all the muscles in your body work as a team, it makes sense to keep them all equally strong so they can help each other do the job. For every movement you make, there will be a network of muscles, tendons, etc. that come into play. Farrier work will target some of those structures, but the others won’t be strong unless you do exercises that focus on them. Plus when you’re fit in terms of cardio, you’ll be able to keep oxygen in your system longer and your body won’t get tired as easily. It’s when your body is tired that the risk of things pulling, straining or tearing is greatest.
Pay into a Health Care Plan
All Canadian provinces, and now American states, have some form of basic subsidized health coverage. Often that’s not enough, though, especially if a major medical event happens. Some farriers’ associations offer discounts on private health insurance and you might be able to claim a part of the premiums as a business expense if you’re self-employed. Banding together with other farriers to start a multi-farrier business might be another way to arrange health benefits without breaking the bank. Whatever method you choose, this is something to put in place before disaster strikes. Wondering what you’re covered for will not be something you want to think about on your ambulance ride to the hospital. You’re going to want to focus on how angry you are at that client who didn’t tie the horse up properly.
Listen to Your Body
This one is free. But it’s pretty hard to do. It means not fitting in “just one more trim” when you know your back is really tired. Or not taking on that new client with the 18h tall feral stud colt. Or just doing a half-day’s work even if you really need the money when you’re just coming back off a knee injury. If your body tells you it needs a stretch in the middle of a trim, you should take it. If it starts to feel sore, it’s trying to tell you something. If it tells you it needs a day off, it probably actually needs to recuperate. Bodies don’t lie to you. If it tells you it really needs a beer, you should probably go ahead and listen to it then, too.
By Cindy McMann