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The position of a farrier is a crucial one for the health and wellbeing of horses. Farriers are people who deal with grooming horses’ hooves, as well as fitting them with horseshoes. Being a farrier is not an easy job, but it can make a comfortable living and is a great option for someone who loves horses. Read on to find out how you can become a farrier.

Step 1: Weigh the pros and cons.

Before diving into any career path, it is advisable to consider the good and the bad that could come from your decision. One pros of being a farrier is that you get to work with horses in a hands-on way. Another pro is that many farriers make a comfortable income, with state averages starting around $41,000 per year (in North Carolina) and reaching nearly $57,000 (in New York). This can also be a good position for people who would not do well in an office environment.

The cons, however, are substantial as well. The largest concern is the risk of injury. A horse who decides to kick you could kill you if the impact hits just right. Most farriers can expect some kind of injury in their career, and in many cases, a non-emergency injury could mean you are expected to continue working through the pain. Additionally, there can be more risk for those who work for themselves, as income may be unstable.

If you choose to continue along the path of becoming a farrier, move on to step 2.

Step 2: Start an apprenticeship or schooling.

Similarly to many trades, farriers have two major options when it comes to education. The first is to complete an apprenticeship with a farrier who is qualified to teach you. If you choose this route, you can expect to have less hands-on work right away and a longer period of time spent learning compared to schooling. However, many apprentices are paid for their work, although it can be a modest income.

Farrier schools, on the other hand, may be a better approach for some. There are a few schools in the US that offer intensive 8-week classes that will train people in a very hands-on way. While you would not be paid during this time, it might be worthwhile for some people to choose this option in the hopes of making more money faster.

Once you’ve completed your training, you can become certified by the American Farriers Association and are able to begin working.

Step 3: Build your business and specialize.

To get started with working, it is a good idea to work for another independent farrier or company. During this time, you can build a portfolio of business for yourself and eventually go solo, if you wish. You should also decide what kind of shoeing jobs you want to focus on and specialize in. Furthermore, you can continue your education by staying up to date with new techniques, as well as joining events for farriers.

Being a farrier is not a job for the faint of heart. It takes serious dedication to horses in order to have a successful career. If you love horses and have a great attention to detail, you should consider becoming a farrier.