Becoming a Farrier

By Eric Hammer

If you love horses then you may want to consider becoming a farrier. For those who have never heard the term before, a farrier is the person who applies horseshoes to the hooves of a horse. While business was obviously much more common 100 years ago, it is still a very big business as horses are still commonly in use for recreation and sports in the United States today.

In fact, there are approximately 9.2 million horses in this country and they all need talented people interested in becoming a farrier to put their horseshoes on them. Of course the job isn't only about putting on the horseshoes. It's also about knowing something of horse anatomy and health so that you can talk with the veterinarian about the problems the horse is having.

Farriers are a mixed bunch with some being extremely cagey and refusing to help the next generation to learn about becoming a farrier. However, others are happy to talk about their trade and will generally take you under their wing if you express a genuine interest in the business.

How Much Can You Make?

The typical salary for a farrier is about $40,000 per year. However, for farriers who work with thoroughbred horses, where the work needs to be done to perfection, the salaries can easily hit the low six figures. Starting salaries by contrast can be as little as $24,000 per year.

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Keep in mind when looking at becoming a farrier that the job entails knowledge of a number of disciplines. You need to know something of veterinary medicine, something about blacksmithing and a lot about the business of dealing with a horse's hooves.

Remember that being a farrier can be dangerous work. Horses are powerful animals and if they kick you while you are trimming their hooves or putting their shoes on, you can be severely injured. Therefore, make sure wherever you work as a farrier that they have insurance.

If you prefer to do something other handling hooves but still want to work with horses, consider being a groomer as that profession will also give you contact with the animals while not requiring as much specialized knowledge.

Qualifications / Requirements

You need to check with your state licensing board to find out the details of getting a license to become a farrier. Some states do not have any requirements at all while others will require tests, sometimes both practical and written. In general, you don't have to have a college degree, though if you are sure that becoming a farrier is something you want to do, it can be helpful to have at least some college as this is something many employers will look for.

First Steps

Go to horse farms where people ride horses for recreation or visit race tracks. Talk to the farriers there. Find one who is willing to mentor you in the business (it can take a bit of effort as some farriers prefer not to share their knowledge with anyone). Once you understand the basics, apply to a farrier school and you can then learn everything you need to know.


Check out these helpful resources to find out more about becoming a farrier:

The Farrier and Hoofcare Resource Center - Look for the educational resources and farrier schools links.

InfoHorse: Farrier School - While they are trying to sell you something at the end (the services of the farrier school), this is also a great introduction to becoming a farrier.

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