Horseshoeing is one of those crafts students need to learn on the ground, from people who really know what they’re doing. Unlike many of the career paths available today, from coding to freelance writing jobs, you can’t learn it remotely. Even in-class academics will only get you so far.
Horseshoeing is a traditional profession that involves caring for the hooves of horses. It has been around since the 5th century BCE, but it’s constantly evolving. Thinking of going to farrier school? Here are some horseshoeing hacks for students who want to learn this craft.
Get Very Familiar with Working with Horses
The first step is getting familiar with the horse, even before you look at the hooves. Did you know that horses, like humans, can sense uneasiness? When you’re uneasy around the horse, you make them uneasy, and that can make your job much more difficult.
As a new student, you need to spend time with horses until you become familiar with their body language and with proper handling techniques. Once you’re confident you can handle them, you can proceed.
Develop Physical Strength
To handle horses, you need to develop whole body strength, especially core strength. Any professional farrier will tell you that horseshoeing is a physically demanding job. You need to be in a position to deal with difficult horses. Not all horses you encounter will willingly hold their feet up for you.
To keep a hold of the leg of an unwilling horse requires strength and stamina; otherwise, you won’t get any work done.
Learn the Anatomy of the Horse’s Foot
Learning the anatomy of the horse’s foot is not about memorizing the parts. You need to learn them in detail and understand the mechanics behind each part. This way, you’ll be in a position to make horseshoes that suit each horse you attend to.
Learn the Differences in Breeds of Horses and their Hooves
Did you know that each breed of horse has genetic traits that make their feet tend towards specific characteristics? For instance, Thoroughbreds are notorious for very thin hoof walls, which poses a challenge when nailing the shoes in.
Mustangs, on the other hand, have naturally stronger and harder hooves. That means nailing in shoes is much easier, but that trimming all that thick hoof wall might require more strength and patience.
Learn the Different Uses a Client’s Horses are Put To
The kind of work a horse does determines the kind of horseshoe they need. As part of your schooling you’ll need to learn not just the different kinds of horseshoes, but which horseshoes are used for each job and why.
A horse used in competitions is shod differently from one used for light pleasure riding. When you understand the kind of work the horse does, you gain insights on which kind of shoe will be most comfortable.
Develop People Skills
Like any other profession out there, farriers need to learn how to negotiate with their clients. If you have poor communication skills, you’ll have a harder time getting business and keeping clients. When you know how to speak to your clients, you’re almost guaranteed to be able to find more work.
It also pays to learn basic people skills because some clients will use how you interact with them to gauge how you’ll treat the horses.
Develop Business Skills
Even though horseshoeing is a traditional profession, farriers are business people like any other professional out there. As a small business owner, you need to be excellent at accounting, bookkeeping and even marketing, otherwise you’ll end up with huge losses.
Join a Professional Farrier Organization
Farrier organizations help you keep up with other professionals in your field. You get to attend forums that will allow you to meet colleagues and learn new skills. You need to stay abreast with the latest technologies in this field to improve your skills. This alone can help you earn more from what you do.
This might sound cliché, but practice makes perfect. Continual, focused and repetitive practice ensures you get better as a professional. Practice makes you more efficient at the job, as well as making your job easier on your body.
Horseshoeing might be a traditional profession, but it can pay just as well as the modern ones. Learning new horseshoeing skills puts you in a better position to secure your future no matter what challenges arise. We hope these tips and horseshoeing hacks help you as you start your journey as a farrier.
Feature image: Jean; Image 1: Anastasia Shuraeva