Farriers make and apply shoes for horses. They also trim and clean horses' feet and treat foot problems. farriers can make custom shoes for specialised work or to correct foot problems. They work with racehorses, police mounts, riding horses and even zoo animals. Most farriers make house calls, or stable calls, so operate with portable forges out of trucks. Horses need regular attention to their shoes and feet, so a farrier relies on repeat customers for steady work.
In 2011, the "American Farriers Journal" reported that a full time farrier earns an average of £60,190 a year for full-time work and £13,749 for part-time work. This equates to 1,904 trimmings or shoeings a year for a full-timer, for an average of 148 different clients. These figures are for gross pay, before overhead costs are deducted.
Most farriers are self-employed, thus have to pay their own taxes and insurance out of their earnings. You'll need to subtract money for tools and materials, a truck and gas to get back and forth to your client's locations. Other expenses might include office supplies, advertising and a cell phone for keeping in touch with clients. Most farriers charge a flat fee for a job. Some may charge mileage or a trip charge.
You can learn to be a farrier by apprenticing yourself to a practicing farrier and learning on the job, but many farriers attend trade school to learn the profession. Courses last from several months to a year. You can also take additional training to learn to make corrective or orthopaedic shoes. These skills will allow you to command a higher fee for your services.
Factors That Affect Pay
Specialised training allows you to charge more. Also, the type of horses you shoe can make a difference. You may earn more taking care of race horses or draft horses than the family riding horse. Supply and demand play a part also. If you live in an area of the country where there aren't a lot of other farriers, you'll earn more than if you're working in an area with a lot of competition.
Most people get involved in shoeing horses because they like animals, enjoy working out of doors and like being independent. You can set your own schedule as a farrier, but you may also end up working long hours. Conditions may sometimes be harsh, especially in periods of extreme cold and heat, if you're not working in a barn. The work is physically demanding, and you can be injured by recalcitrant horses.