I’ve often heard it said that blacksmithing (farriery, metal working, hoof smithing…add adjective here!) is the “second oldest profession”. Lets face it, you’ve all tagged your farrier in the meme about being like hookers. Its fine, its even funny the first ten times! For a profession that is as old as it is, I find it fascinating that the modern day farrier struggles to find the balance between businessman and horseman. Im not saying that farriers should be more like Monty Roberts or Warren Buffet, but finding a balance between good business practices and fundamental horsemanship is key to running a good farrier business.
Whenever a potential client calls I have a set of questions I like to ask to see if they are a fit for my business model. My first question is almost always why are they looking for a new farrier. I’m stunned by the fact that most have the same answer. The last guy stopped showing up and stopped returning phone calls! Although, once in a while I find the real reason why the last guy stopped showing up, I very rarely see a good enough reason that can’t be worked out. I find most horse owners are more than willing to do whatever is needed for their horses. What then, are a good mix of business practices and horsemanship skill to look for in a farrier?
Lets face it, as a farrier, we are all guilty of missing a few phone calls now and then. However, there really aren’t a ton of excuses these days especially with the advent of text messaging. It is crucial to have a good line of communication between horse owners and farriers. Most owners whether they know it or not will judge the farrier less on ability and more on the ability to return calls/messages and maintain a good line of communication. If a horse loses a shoe they may not expect you to show up within the hour, but owners will feel a lot better about hearing back right away and knowing they can count on their farrier!
For a farrier being where you say you are going to be when you are supposed to be there goes a long way. Most owners either plan their day or riding schedule around the farrier visit, so a no show can really set someone back. Obviously things outside of our control can happen on both ends. This ties back in with keeping a good line of communication!
Keeps Horses on a Schedule
As far as I’m concerned keeping horses on a schedule is my job. Although, I will always work with the owner on the appropriate schedule for each individual horse. Once I know where to put the horse in my calendar I consider it my job to make sure that it gets done at the agreed upon interval.
Treats Horses with Respect
Not every horse is perfect, some require a lot of patience whether they are young (learning), old (difficulty standing) or have some sort of disability (mental or physical). Lip chaining and whacking horses for most offenses (in my opinion) is stupid. If you think you need to lip chain a horse you might as well tranquilize him to shoe him because he’s not going to get any better that way (odds are the farrier or the horse will get hurt). Don’t get me wrong there are a few horses out there that can really get a farrier hurt with bad behavior. Horses like that should be tranq’d or shod in stocks to avoid injury to both horse and farrier.
To wrap it up, nobodies perfect, but at the end of the day a Farrier needs to be a good horseman and businessman to provide horse owners with a well balanced, quality service.