Farrier (Horseshoer)

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Imagine that you're walking through a gravel pit in your bare feet, and you'll get an idea of how important a farrier is to a horse's welfare. Farriers make or adjust horseshoes to properly fit the horse's hooves as well as provide protection, cushioning, balance, and any correction required due to surface conditions, lameness, deformity, or injury. Farriers also trim growth from horse's hooves, and they serve as a good first defense against foot and hoof problems by routinely checking these areas.

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.

Pros

Close daily contact with horses

Autonomy of self-employment

Cons

Physically demanding work

Potential danger

Long hours

Low wages and considerable self-employment expenses such as those for travel, vehicle maintenance, insurance, and tools
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