Farrier work is performed by hand, using anvils, hammers, and other tools in conjunction with forges (furnaces) whose heat reaches temperatures over 2000° F. Good hand-eye coordination, creative problem solving, and a perfectionist's approach to customized shoe adjustments are crucial. Because of the manual heating, shaping, and cooling of metal and the need to fit shoes onto a horse that may not be in the mood for this procedure, farrier work is physically demanding and sometimes dangerous.
Large facilities with many horses may retain a permanent, on-site horseshoer on staff, but most farriers are self-employed and serve horses from various areas. For independent farriers, a driver's license, a portable workshop, and the willingness to travel are essential, and in some regions, it may be necessary to relocate. Good communication skills are also important to farriers, as they must confer with both the horse-facility staff and the veterinarians on issues concerning the horse's feet, gait, and health. Self-employed farriers should be able to maintain their inventory of tools, schedule their own service appointments, manage bookkeeping records, and handle any other administrative duties associated with their profession.
Credentials necessary for farrier work vary from country to country, but they usually involve several years of apprenticeship with a licensed farrier. In the United Kingdom, typical salaries for farriers are £8,500 for apprentices, £11,000-14,000 for newly qualified farriers, and up to £50,000 for experienced farriers. The median expected salary for farriers in the United States is $19,163, with apprenticed farriers earning less and experienced farriers potentially earning considerably more. To augment income, some farriers may deal in the tool trade or work with veterinary surgeons at animal clinics.
Close daily contact with horses
Autonomy of self-employment
Physically demanding work
Low wages and considerable self-employment expenses such as those for travel, vehicle maintenance, insurance, and tools