Horseshoes are more than just lucky charms -- you can turn them into a
rewarding career by training as a farrier.
When it comes to a horse's hooves and lower legs, a farrier is an expert.
Backed by a solid knowledge of horse anatomy and physiology, a farrier removes
old or worn shoes from a horse and fits the animal with new ones.
In the U.S., several colleges and private schools offer farrier programs.
Farriery schools offer programs that range in length from two weeks to one
year. Longer programs offer more in-depth training.
A typical day offers ample opportunity to work with your hands.
In the morning, you might arrive at the stable, where a customer has brought
a horse for new shoes. You then examine the horse's hooves and notice a small
break. You trim the hoof and determine the horse's shoe requirements.
Next you may heat metal bars in the white-hot forge, then bend and pound
the bars into custom shoes for the horse. That afternoon, you make shoes
and fit horses with custom shoes. You greet customers and discuss their horses'
health and foot care needs. At the end of the day, you relax in the dorm,
joining your fellow students in a lively chat about upcoming rodeos and horse
Students can expect to learn "horsemanship, farriery, metallurgy, gait
identification and alteration, anatomy and foot dynamics," says Mitch Taylor.
He is the director of the Kentucky Horseshoeing School.
Farrier science students also learn how to make basic, corrective, pathological
and special breed shoes. They learn trimming, shoeing and forge work.
At some schools, students also learn about running a horseshoeing business.
High school students can prepare by taking "biology, writing and [developing]
communication skills," says Taylor. Good computer skills also help, he
adds, because farriers use computers for billing, bookkeeping and navigating
A keen interest in horses helps too, adds Max Williams, owner of
the Shur Shod Horseshoeing School in Cimarron, Kansas. Williams recommends
that students take part in 4-H, livestock clubs, school rodeos and equestrian
Many applicants worked with horses during high school or come from a family
that raised or sold horses, adds Murray Young. He is the program coordinator
for a farrier science program at an agricultural college.
It takes strength and hand-eye coordination to become a farrier,
says Williams. "The muscles you use when you're shoeing aren't the same that
you use for playing football," he adds. "It's a very physical profession."
Farriers can be certified by the American Farrier's Association. Check
with the association or your farrier school to determine certification requirements.
Occupational Outlook HandbookFor more information related to this field of study, see: Veterinary
Assistants and Non-Farm Animal Caretakers
Danny Love's Farrier CornerBasic foot care for horses
The Farrier and Hoof Care Resource CenterMore than 30,000 pages on farriery and hoof care