This month’s question comes to us from Moses, who asks: What's the best way to start up your own farrier business?
There really isn't a best or easy way to start up any business, but I can give you some suggestions that might help.
Learn All You Can First
Whether your parents or grandparents are farriers, or you don't know anything about the trade, I would definitely recommend school. There are classes held all over the world, ranging from weekend courses to two or four year programs.
Depending on where you live, school might not be mandatory, but there's always something new to learn. Learn what you can about running a business, too. There’s a lot to keep track of when you’re in business for yourself, and it’s better to know the basics before you start than to try to figure it all out on the fly.
You may not have to register your business, but if you do, your government’s website will have all the forms and information you need to set it up.
Consider an Apprenticeship
When I started out, I met and worked with as many farriers as I could to learn new tips and tricks, and also to prove that I could do the job. I picked up a lot of clients from farriers I worked with who were too busy to get to all their clients.
Even after you're out on your own and still working on getting new clients, you could talk to the farriers you've worked with best and ask them if they need any help that week. Most will take you up on that offer and even pay you if you're good, especially in the busy summer horse show season.
When you first start looking for clients, you need to get your name out there. You could put ads in your local newspaper or online. You could put flyers or business cards around your town, especially in vet offices, large boarding or breeding facilities and tack and feed stores.
You'll probably find you'll get most of your business through word of mouth, though. Your local farrier supply store will be a fantastic resource. They often get calls from people looking for a farrier who works in a specific area. Most have a list by their phone of farriers who are looking for work, with their locations and contact information. You should probably get your name on that list.
A farrier supply store is also a great way to meet other farriers in the area. With that community, you’ll be able to network, refer each other to clients when you need to and learn about new opportunities.
Organize Your Days Efficiently
The area you live in will determine how busy you'll be and how far you'll have to travel to get to your clients. I try to stay within an hour’s drive and ideally, I prefer to start my day at the farthest stop and work my way back home. I also like to book clients who live in the same area together. This doesn't always work out, but it saves gas and time when it does.
Like any business, it may take you years to build up good client list. You might have to start out shoeing some of the badly behaved horses that no other farrier wants to work with. You can start weeding them out as you get busier.
I hope some of this was helpful. Best of luck to you in your new adventure.
This is our monthly feature, “Ask a Farrier,” a Q and A with farrier Karen McMann. Karen has been a full-time farrier for 19 years. She graduated in 2002 from the Canadian School of Horseshoeing, where she studied under Pat Cullen. She serves on the Advisory Board of Equi-Health Canada and Equi-First Aid USA as a Farrier/Hoof Health Support specialist. Karen lives and works outside of Okotoks, Alberta.
If you have a question you’d like to ask a farrier (about horseshoeing, farriery, hoof and horse health, blacksmith tools, working as a farrier, etc.), email or leave it in the comments below. Every month, we’ll pick one question to answer in our feature.
Image credit: ykaiavu