What to charge is a tricky question that I can’t give you a definite answer on. Even the average going rate for a trim or a set of shoes depends on a lot of things.
It depends on where you are geographically. Are you close to a big city? In an area where horses are big money? Are you in the backwoods somewhere? That all factors in. What to charge also depends on what kind of horses and clients you’re working with. And it depends on how many farriers are around and what they charge for what services.
I’m not a big fan of discussing money, especially when the work has nothing to do with me. For example, I have clients and friends who are amazing trainers, massage therapists, chiropractors, and farmers with hay to sell. I don’t need or want to know what they charge – I just refer them to other friends and clients who are looking for one or all of those services. They can decide between themselves whether the prices are fair. I can, however, give you some different perspectives to consider when figuring out what you should be charging.
Some people say that a new farrier doesn’t have the experience or knowledge yet to justify charging the same as someone who’s been a farrier for twenty years. Charging less could be read as you acknowledging that you don’t have lots of experience yet. On the other hand, you don’t want to undercut another farrier and steal clients who are just out looking for a deal. That’s not a good way to get business.
Others would argue that you’re doing the same job, so it only makes sense to charge the same, regardless of experience. That argument works a lot better if you can honestly say that you can do the job just as well as someone who’s been doing it for years.
That said, some would factor in time. It might take a half an hour for a farrier just starting out to trim one horse. A seasoned professional could have the same horse trimmed, along with three or four others, in that same half hour.
In this job, you get paid per horse, not by the hour. I’m fairly certain every farrier, at some point in their career, has spent over an hour trying to get an untrained new client’s horse to just pick its feet up. Some farriers will charge for that training time, some don’t. Some charge a little, regardless of whether all, none, or only one or two feet were trimmed.
Another perspective to take into consideration is education and credentials. Did you go further with your classes and get your master farrier certification? Are you a DVM who specializes in podiatry?
Some horse owners pay large amounts of money for someone with extra credentials on their resume. On the other hand, some would say that you don’t need a bunch of extremely stressful exams to prove that you can help the same lame horse with a good trim or a carefully placed set of shoes. Like I said, it’s about perspectives.
Most farriers, whether they have a Ph.D or they learned the trade from their grandpa and never went to school at all, will tell you practice and experience is key.
In the long run, this is your business and I can’t tell you what to charge. I can only offer some different perspectives so you can decide for yourself. Do your research, find out who’s charging what in your area and what they’re charging it for, honestly compare their skills and experience to your own and then decide what your market will find reasonable. Good luck.
Image credit: Michael Longmire