Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Your Hands, Their Feet

I always thought farriery was the way to go - variety, good money, physically active - and then concluded equine dentistry was even more appealing. Yes, it was the money that persuaded me, how did you guess? However, I see some pros for farriery in that this business is easier to run on a smaller client base - your horse's feet need doing every 2 months, unlike the teeth which are done annually, calling for more people to use you to be constantly in work.

Spending the majority of my short working life on studs, I've viewed many foals born with the most interesting looking legs. Sometimes it's the vet's job to fix problems; others the farrier can fix in various ways.

The legs are a focus over the first few months of a foal's life as at this age, things can be adjusted to "encourage" growth in a different direction (correcting/minimising the problem).

For example - a foal that toes in - a farrier can rasp a little more off a particular side, encouraging extra growth on this side, pushing the foot in the opposite direction, straightening it out over time. The end result may not be a 100% correct horse, but can alleviate problems, make them more correct and therefore more appealing to buyers/less likely to receive stresses on their legs while in work.

In Victoria it's pretty common for a farrier to charge around $50 to trim your horse's feet (less, the more horses you have) and around $100 for a set of shoes all round. Now in a day one farrier can easily manage 20 horses. Say they were all done at the same place, all trims and therefore at a cheaper rate - $30 - this is still $600 for the day. And honestly, they can manage more, but 20 horses would be quite a demand on the body!

To become a farrier in Oz, you're looking at a 3 year apprenticeship with what I've been told is an average income, but once you've invested this time over the short term, the wage is a lot more appealing.

Some Associations:
American Farriers Association:

Aust. Farriers and Blacksmiths Association:

New Zealand Farrier's Association:

Brotherhood of Working Farriers Association:

"Be wary of the horse with a sense of humour." - Pam Brown

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