Ask a Farrier: Do I Need to Know How to Forge to Be a Farrier?

Ask a Farrier: Do I Need to Know How to Forge to Be a Farrier?

In short, no, but it might come in handy one day. Where you live and what kind of horses you want to work on will definitely be factors. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Where Do You and Your Clients Live?

Do you or your clients live near the mountains or go for trail rides in the winter? Are your winters mild or cold and icy? A lot of people want shoes with borium for extra grip when they’re riding through the icy hills. You will need a forge to weld the borium on. On the other hand, ice nails have borium on the heads and don’t require forging. Whichever you decide, I’d recommend using an old hammer. Borium is very hard and will dent and scratch up your hammer.

What Kind of Horses Do You Want to Work On?

Do you want to work on heavy horses? Draft horseshoes are big, thick and harder to bend when they’re cold. Are there a lot of hunter/ jumpers in your area that require horseshoes with clips? You can buy shoes with clips already made, but you will get a better fit if you burn them into the hoof. You will also need a forge if you have to make a clip or two on your own. Do you want to work with your local vet? A forge will come in handy if you have to make some therapeutic shoes, for example, egg bars or shoes with heel calks.

How Long Have You Been a Farrier?

Can you trim a hoof straight and level? Can you shape a shoe that fits the horse and is perfectly level? Some farriers who are just starting out will burn the shoe on the foot, hiding any imperfections in the trim. The burn marks around the hoof will tell you how level your trim is and if you need to rasp or cut a little more. It also sets the shoe in to the hoof a little better, making it easier to get the first nail in without shifting the shoe. On a side note, some farriers would argue that hot shoeing draws moisture out of the hoof, possibly drying it out and causing hoof cracks, so be aware of that.

Do You Want to Make Other Stuff?

Farrier work aside, do you like making and fixing things? Are you the artsy type? With a forge, you could make your own tools or anything made of metal. I rarely hot shoe, so my forge lives in the garage. I showed my better half a few tricks and we’ve made parts to fix the tractor, tables, shelves, candle holders, wine racks, door handles and hinges, tongs and fire pokers for our smokers. We even built two smokers. I’ve also found my anvil and hammer a great stress reliever. The possibilities are endless.

Image credit: jean-pierre duretz

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