This section is part of the Farriery Guide, an introductory guide intended to give those new to farriery a quick understanding of the trade.
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Some schools provide farrier tools to students and others don’t. So a good question to ask schools you’re thinking of attending is whether they will provide them or not? If so, will you get to keep them or are they just for use during your time in training? If the school doesn’t provide tools, it’s worth asking if they sell them and whether you get access to a student discount? Also, make sure to inquire about the quality and condition of the tools.
The number of farrier tools you need for training depends on the length of your course. If you’re just taking a short trim course you can get away with spending a couple of hundred dollars, but if you’re taking a long program you can spend a couple thousand or more on tools.
Whether schools provide farrier supplies or not, you cannot do the job without them. So since farriers are usually self-employed, it means you’ll likely have to purchase your own tools and supplies. Luckily, one benefit of self-employment is that you can write off your supply purchases as expenses, so remember to keep the bills for all your purchases, new and used.
So account for these expenses as you consider the costs of going to farrier school and becoming a farrier. When you start looking around at tools, you’ll notice that their pricetags vary wildly. To give you an idea of some typical costs, here’s a list of common farrier tools and a ballpark of their average prices in 2020 (from most to least expensive):
- Toolbox – $200 (£160 / 180€)
- Hoof nippers – $150 (£120 / 135€)
- Farrier apron – $75 (£60 / 67€)
- Rasp – $30 (£20 / 25€)
- Straight blade – $15 (£10 / 12€)
- Curved blade – $15 (£10 / 12€)
- Loop knife – $15 (£10 / 12€)
- Hoof knife – $15 (£10 / 12€)
- Knife sharpener – $15 (£10 / 12€)
- Rasp handle – $15 (£10 / 12€)
- Wire brush – $7.50 (£5 / 6€)
- Forge – $750 (£500 / 625€)
- Anvil – $450 (£300 / 375€)
- Anvil stand – $300 (£200 / 250€)
- Driving hammer – $60 (£40 / 50€)
- Rounding hammer – $60 (£40 / 50€)
- Tongs – $60 (£40 / 50€)
- Shoe puller – $50 (£40 / 45€)
- Nail puller – $40 (£32 / 36€)
- Ball pein hammer – $20 (£16 / 18€)
- Cross pein hammer – $20 (£16 / 18€)
- Clinch cutter – $15 (£10 / 12€)
- Pritchel – $15 (£10 / 12€)
In addition to your tools, you’ll need a number of supplies. Farriers will regularly go through products related to shoeing (like horseshoes), horse care (thrush treatment, for instance), tool maintenance (such as sharpening supplies) and farrier maintenance (like coffee and protein bars). Because this work is hard on your tools, there are also things you can expect to regularly replace (rasp handles, for example) long before the actual tool wears out. Ideally.
When you’re deciding what supplies to purchase, get some guidance from your teachers or from farriers you trust. Ask them what they use on a daily basis, but also ask them what they wish they had started out with. What seems inessential (like a fly sheet, for example) might actually make your day go more smoothly, your horses and your clients happier and your repeat client list longer.
Here is a list of common farrier supplies and a ballpark of their prices in 2020. Price will vary widely depending on the brand, the amount you buy and where you buy it. You may not need all these things right away, but it will give you an idea of some possible future expenses:
Repairs, Corrections, Therapy and Extras
- Hoof packing – $70 (£57/64.50€)
- Hoof crack staples – $70/10 count pack (£57/64.50€)
- Studs – $45/50 count box (£36.50/41.50€)
- Borium – $40/lb. (£32.50/37€)
- Poultice – $15 (£12/13.50€)
- Thrush treatment – $15 (£12/13.50€)
- Poultice Pads – $9 (£7/8€)
- Shoe pads – $5/pair for basic full pads (£4/4.50€)
- Vet bandage – $2 (£1.60/1.80€)
Ask your farrier school where they purchase supplies and whether there’s a discount. If you have the space to store things and you know you’ll regularly use the same products, it can be useful to buy some things in bulk. It’s also helpful to ask where to sink your money and where you can get away with a purchase that’s not top of the line. It can be tempting to get a shiny new toolbox, but a used one will do you just as well as you’re growing your business.
That said, it also pays to look professional. Keeping your tools in a cardboard box is a very cost-effective way to start out, but that will not convey the impression that you are a real farrier who’s serious about making a career out of this. Try to strike a balance. Make sure you and your tools appear neat, organized and ready to work and that your supplies will do the job you’ve purchased them to do.
Bear in mind that expensive tools such as hammers and hoof nippers will last a long time, whereas supplies such as horse rasps and brushes will need to be replaced more often. Also, typical farrier supplies such as horseshoe nails and hoof care accessories (i.e. hoof polish) will get used up regularly throughout the course of your work. Though their per unit cost is low, you will go through a lot of them, so costs can add up.
Include things like invoice sheets and business-related items into your start-up costs, as well. They’re the least fun tools and supplies to think about, but you do still need them.
Supply purchasing is an ongoing thing as a farrier, but the highest costs come at the beginning when you’re starting out with nothing. So make your purchases count. Do thorough research by asking instructors and other farriers what the best tools for the job are. Then take your time to shop around and find the highest quality tools at the best price.
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