Farriers are experts in the care and treatment of the feet and lower legs
of horses. They remove worn or defective shoes from a horse and examine the
hoof to detect bruises and cracks. They then select, fit, shape and nail a
new shoe to the hooves.
As more horse owners choose to keep their horses shoeless, farriers are
having to expand their practice to cover and include general hoof care.
Shoes are shaped using a swage (a stamp), forge and hammer. Farriers also
know how to build handmade shoes and are knowledgeable in corrective shoeing.
At one time, horse owners would bring their horses to the farrier or blacksmith
shop to be shoed. Today, the trade has become mobile, with farriers traveling
to the horse. They usually have a truck or trailer fitted as a mobile shop.
Farriers often work outside. They ply their trade at boarding stables,
breeding farms, training stables, racetracks, farms and ranches. They are
often in dusty or muddy environments and insects, odors and extreme weather
conditions are par for the course.
Injuries are also common. Farriers suffer cuts, bruises, burns, mashed
fingers, bites and kicks. You need to be physically fit for this job. Good
eyesight, hand-eye coordination and agility are important.
Most farriers are self-employed, so you'll want to work on your communications
and business skills. "Most farriers who fail in their own business do so not
because they're poor farriers, but because they can't communicate well with
their clients or because they can't handle the business concerns," says Danvers
Child of the American Farrier's Association (AFA).