How to Become a Farrier: A Complete Guide

If you love horses and want to work with them, Become a Farrier might be the perfect career choice for you. A farrier is a professional who specializes in equine hoof care, including trimming, balancing, and shoeing horses’ hooves.

How to Become a Farrier

Farriers combine skills from blacksmithing, veterinary medicine, and horsemanship to provide quality hoof care for horses of all breeds and disciplines.

But how do you become a farrier? What are the steps, requirements, and challenges involved in this rewarding but demanding profession?

In this blog post, I will answer these questions and more, based on my own research and experience as a farrier. I will also share some tips and advice on how to succeed as a farrier and enjoy your work.

What is a Farrier?

A farrier is a person who shoes horses. The word “farrier” comes from the Latin word “ferrarius”, which means “iron worker”. Farriers use iron and other metals to make, shape, and fit horseshoes to horses’ hooves. Horseshoes protect the hooves from wear and tear, improve traction and performance, and correct or prevent hoof problems.

A farrier’s job is not just about shoeing horses, though. It also involves trimming and balancing the hooves, which are made of keratin, the same material as human nails and hair. Trimming and balancing the hooves are essential for maintaining the health and soundness of the horse’s legs, joints, and muscles. A farrier also needs to know about horse anatomy, physiology, pathology, gaits, and biomechanics to provide the best hoof care for each individual horse.

A farrier also needs to have good communication skills and business sense. Farriers work with horse owners, trainers, veterinarians, and other equine professionals to ensure the well-being of their clients’ horses. Farriers also need to manage their own schedule, finances, equipment, and safety.

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Why Become a Farrier?

Becoming a farrier can be a rewarding career for many reasons. Here are some of the benefits of being a farrier:

Why Become a Farrier
  • You get to work with horses every day. If you are passionate about horses and enjoy being around them, being a farrier can be very fulfilling. You get to interact with different horses and learn about their personalities, histories, and needs.
  • You get to help horses stay healthy and happy. As a farrier, you play an important role in preventing and treating hoof problems that can affect the horse’s comfort, performance, and quality of life. You also get to see the results of your work and how it improves the horse’s condition.
  • You get to be your own boss. As a farrier, you have the freedom to set your own hours, rates, and policies. You can choose which clients to work with and where to work. You can also decide how much or how little you want to work, depending on your goals and lifestyle.
  • You get to be creative and skillful. As a farrier, you need to use your hands and tools to create custom-made horseshoes that fit each horse’s hooves perfectly. You also need to use your knowledge and experience to adapt to different situations and challenges. Being a farrier requires both artistry and craftsmanship.
  • You get to learn new things constantly. As a farrier, you never stop learning. You need to keep up with the latest research, techniques, products, and trends in hoof care. You also need to learn from your own mistakes and successes. Being a farrier means being open-minded and curious.

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How to Become a Farrier?

How to Become a Farrier

Becoming a farrier is not easy. It takes time, dedication, education, training, certification, and experience. Here are the main steps you need to take to become a farrier:

Step 1: Get a High School Diploma or GED

The minimum educational requirement for becoming a farrier is a high school diploma or GED. However, having some college education or courses in subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, business management, or animal science can be helpful for developing your knowledge base and skills.

Step 2: Attend a Farrier School or Program

The next step is to attend a farrier school or program that offers comprehensive training in hoof care theory and practice. There are many farrier schools or programs across the country that vary in length, curriculum, cost, accreditation, reputation, and quality. Some programs can be completed in a few months while others can take up to two years.

When choosing a farrier school or program, you should consider factors such as:

  • The instructors’ qualifications
  • The facilities’ equipment
  • The curriculum’s content
  • The program’s accreditation
  • The graduates’ success rate
  • The tuition’s affordability

You should also visit the school or program in person if possible, talk to the instructors and students, and observe the classes and workshops.

Some examples of farrier schools or programs in the US are:

Step 3: Complete an Apprenticeship

After completing a farrier school or program, you should seek an apprenticeship with an experienced and reputable farrier. An apprenticeship is a valuable opportunity to gain hands-on experience, learn from a mentor, and build your network and reputation. An apprenticeship can last from six months to two years, depending on your goals and progress.

When looking for an apprenticeship, you should consider factors such as:

The mentor’s credentials, personality, location, clientele, apprenticeship’s expectations and apprenticeship’s compensation

You should also have a written agreement with your mentor that outlines the terms and conditions of the apprenticeship, such as the duration, schedule, duties, responsibilities, fees, and insurance.

Step 4: Get Certified

Although certification is not mandatory for becoming a farrier in the US, it is highly recommended and respected by the industry and the clients. Certification demonstrates your competence, professionalism, and commitment to excellence in hoof care. Certification can also increase your credibility, marketability, and income potential.

The most recognized and reputable organization that offers certification for farriers in the US is the American Farrier’s Association (AFA).

The AFA has four levels of certification:

Each level of certification requires passing written and practical exams that test your knowledge and skills in hoof care. The exams are administered by AFA testers at various locations and events throughout the year. You need to be a member of the AFA to apply for certification.

To prepare for the exams, you should study the AFA Study Guide, attend AFA pre-certification clinics, practice with AFA examiners, and review the AFA certification forms and scoresheets.

Step 5: Start Your Career

Once you have completed your education, training, certification, and experience, you are ready to start your career as a farrier. You can choose to work as an employee for an established farrier business or start your own farrier business. Either way, you need to have a solid business plan, a reliable vehicle, a quality tool kit, a professional insurance policy, and a loyal clientele.

To succeed as a farrier, you also need to:

  • Keep learning and improving your skills
  • Keep up with the latest trends and innovations in hoof care
  • Join and participate in professional associations and networks
  • Attend and participate in workshops, clinics, seminars, and conferences
  • Market and promote your services effectively
  • Provide excellent customer service and satisfaction
  • Maintain high standards of ethics and safety

How Much Does a Farrier Make?

How Much Does a Farrier Make

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for animal care and service workers, which includes farriers, was $24,990 as of May 2020. However, this figure does not reflect the actual income potential of farriers, as it includes other occupations such as animal trainers, groomers, kennel workers, and pet sitters.

According to a survey conducted by American Farriers Journal (AFJ) in 2016, the average annual income for full-time farriers in the US was $92,623. However, this figure also varies depending on factors such as:

  • Location
  • Experience
  • Certification
  • Specialization
  • Clientele
  • Services

According to the same survey, the average annual income for full-time farriers by region was:

  • Northeast: $106,698
  • Southeast: $81,630
  • Midwest: $87,228
  • Southwest: $94,722
  • West: $97,446

The average annual income for full-time farriers by years of experience was:

  • Less than 1 year: $37,500
  • 1 to 3 years: $49,167
  • 4 to 6 years: $66,667
  • 7 to 10 years: $75,000
  • 11 to 15 years: $83,333
  • 16 to 20 years: $100,000
  • More than 20 years: $104,167

The average annual income for full-time farriers by certification level was:

  • Non-certified: $77,083
  • CF: $83
  • $83,333
  • CTF: $91,667
  • CJF: $100,000
  • TE: $108,333

The average annual income for full-time farriers by specialization was:

  • General farrier: $83,333
  • Sport horse farrier: $100,000
  • Therapeutic farrier: $108,333
  • Show horse farrier: $116,667

The average annual income for full-time farriers by type of clientele was:

  • Pleasure horses: $75,000
  • Performance horses: $100,000
  • Race horses: $125,000
  • Breeding horses: $133,333

The average annual income for full-time farriers by type of services was:

  • Trimming only: $66,667
  • Shoeing only: $83,333
  • Trimming and shoeing: $100,000
  • Specialty shoeing: $116,667

As you can see, there are many factors that affect how much a farrier makes. However, the most important factor is the quality of your work and the satisfaction of your clients. If you provide excellent hoof care and customer service, you can expect to earn a decent income as a farrier.

What are the Challenges of Being a Farrier?

Being a farrier is not a glamorous or easy job. It involves many challenges and risks that you need to be aware of and prepared for. Some of the common challenges of being a farrier are:

  • Physical demands. Being a farrier is physically demanding. You need to lift heavy tools and equipment, bend over and under horses, and work in awkward positions and angles. You also need to deal with weather conditions, dust, dirt, and noise. Being a farrier can take a toll on your back, knees, hands, and eyes.
  • Mental stress. Being a farrier is mentally stressful. You need to deal with difficult horses, demanding owners, tight schedules, and high expectations. You also need to cope with the pressure of performing well and avoiding mistakes. Being a farrier can cause anxiety, frustration, and burnout.
  • Safety hazards. Being a farrier is dangerous. You need to work with sharp tools and hot metal that can cause injuries and burns. You also need to work with unpredictable animals that can kick, bite, or spook. Being a farrier can result in accidents, infections, and diseases.

To overcome these challenges, you need to:

  • Take care of your health and fitness. You need to eat well, exercise regularly, and rest adequately. You also need to wear protective gear and clothing such as gloves, boots, aprons, and goggles.
  • Seek professional help and support. You need to consult your doctor, dentist, chiropractor, or therapist if you have any physical or mental issues. You also need to join and participate in peer groups and networks such as the AFA or the International Association of Professional Farriers (IAPF) where you can share your experiences and learn from others.
  • Follow safety rules and procedures. You need to follow the best practices and standards of hoof care as outlined by the AFA or the IAPF. You also need to have a professional insurance policy that covers liability, property damage, and medical expenses.

How to Enjoy Being a Farrier?

Despite the challenges, being a farrier can also be enjoyable and rewarding. Here are some tips on how to enjoy being a farrier:

  • Have a passion for horses and hoof care. If you love horses and want to help them stay healthy and happy, being a farrier can be very fulfilling. You get to interact with different horses and learn about their personalities, histories, and needs.
  • Have a positive attitude and outlook. If you have a positive attitude and outlook, being a farrier can be fun and exciting. You get to face new challenges and opportunities every day and see the results of your work.
  • Have a sense of humor and adventure. If you have a sense of humor and adventure, being a farrier can be amusing and thrilling. You get to meet new people and places and experience different cultures and lifestyles.
  • Have a balance between work and life. If you have a balance between work and life, being a farrier can be satisfying and rewarding. You get to set your own goals and pace and enjoy your hobbies and interests.


Becoming a farrier is not for everyone. It requires time, dedication, education, training, certification, experience, skills, knowledge, tools, equipment, insurance, clientele, business sense, communication skills, physical strength, mental resilience, safety awareness, passion, attitude, humor, adventure, balance, and more.

However, if you have what it takes to become a farrier, you can have a rewarding career that allows you to work with horses, help them stay healthy, be your own boss, be creative and skillful, learn new things, and earn a decent income.

I hope this blog post has given you a complete guide on how to become a farrier and what to expect from this profession. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. I would love to hear from you.

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