According to the American Horse Council, there are over 9 million horses in the United States. Those horses are a part of the $100 billion horse industry that creates over 460,000 full time jobs. A farrier is one of those unique equine jobs.
Farriers are horse foot care professionals. For hundreds of years horse owners have relied on farriers to perform foot prep, forge horseshoes, shoe horses, educate owners, and prevent foot related injuries. It’s a career that has closely paralleled the domestication of horses. Today, horse owners would be lost without a qualified farrier nearby.
Horses hoofs are like a person’s fingernails. They constantly grow and have to be maintained. If they aren’t maintained properly, a horse can develop health, balance, and alignment issues. Farriers are the people who maintain a horse’s foot and lower leg health. They may work with a horse every six to eight weeks and are on-call for emergencies.
Farriers work with hundreds of horses every year. Most of the work involves basic hoof maintenance like cleaning, cutting, trimming, and shoeing. When a farrier first meets a horse, he assesses the horse’s balance, gait, and form. Based on his assessment, the farrier will use tools like rasps, nippers, and knives to properly care for the horse’s hoofs. The farrier will measure, select, forge, and shape the correct style and size of horseshoe. This requires expert blacksmithing skills. The farrier then attaches the custom horseshoe to the horse’s hoof. Before the job is over, the farrier reassesses the horse to ensure the shoe fits.
Regular work by a professional farrier can help prevent many foot and health related injuries – insuring that a horse has a healthy and productive life. Between the iron working talents, the health care services, and the foot focus, farriers are essentially a combination of veterinarian, blacksmith, and podiatrist. It’s a physically demanding job that can be quite dangerous too.
Working with big, strong, and powerful horses requires strength and stamina along with excellent horse handling abilities. Farriers literally work on a horse’s feet while it’s standing on 3 legs! It can be dangerous if the horse decides to kick or if something goes wrong.
To become a farrier, you need proper training. Farriers either learn this skilled trade through an apprenticeship with a certified farrier or they can attend a farrier school focused on equine foot care. Aspiring farriers must learn about horse anatomy, blacksmithing, horse behavior, and other necessary skills before they find a job. Combine this knowledge with a passion for horses and you’ll be on the road toward success.
The US does not regulate the farrier profession like other countries do. To find work, farriers must earn a voluntary, professional certification from the American Farrier Association or other organizations. The AFA has certified approximately 2800 farriers.
With experience and a certification, farriers can find work at farms, stables, riding schools, ranches, or racing circuits. Most farriers are self-employed, which allows for a flexible, but busy schedule. Almost all farrier jobs are located in rural areas with large horse populations. Once a farrier builds his reputation and business, they are always on-call and often horse owners have them on speed dial in case of a horse emergency.
Being a farrier is a demanding job. According to the American Farrier Journal, farriers typically make about $92,000 per year. Pay depends on experience, clientele, and other factors. Not a bad salary for being outside and working with horses.
Wherever there are horses, there’s a farrier close by. These equine foot professionals play an essential role in the well being of horses around the globe. Do you want to become a farrier?
Quick Facts About Farrier Careers
Job Title: Farrier
Description: Perform hoof maintenance and shoe horses
Certifications/Education: AFA Farrier Certifications
Necessary Skills: Good with horses, Stamina, Strength, Blacksmithing skills
Potential Employers: Self-Employed, Farms, Stables, Riding Schools, Ranches
Pay: $92,000 per year