Have you ever thought about how much a shoeing should cost? Maybe you’ve even thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of money for how much time the farrier spent.” While it can be tempting to equate value with the amount of time spent, how difficult or easy the job appears, it’s not always true.
I remember one time I hired a company to pour a concrete floor in a large barn, and those guys worked fast! It wasn’t very long before they were done with the job and the boss was ready to be paid. I’m thinking, “Awesome this isn’t going to cost very much.” Wrong, full price! As I politely commented on the cost of the job to the manager, he said “You’re not paying them for what they did, you’re paying them for what they know.” I immediately said, “Touché,” and wrote the check! This example is comparable to when I do a barefoot trim. My favorite saying is, “I charge for knowing what to leave on the foot, not for being able to take it off.”
Being a farrier or trimmer is a lot like being an athlete. You can make a lot of money quickly, but it’s uncertain how long your body will hold up and retirement isn’t always an option due to lack of funds. You have to make a lot of money to compensate for the other things in life that self-employed people are going to run into.
According to Pat Broadus, one of the best businessmen and farriers I know, the most successful farrier practices are lucky to keep 30% of what they bring in after all expenses are taken out. That’s a pretty sad number to think about! In the best situation you would keep $30 for every $100, ugh.
I realize that shoeing can seem fairly simple from the outside looking in. Remove old shoes, trim the hoof, shape the shoe, and nail it back on. Or maybe he needs “stood up” more so we’re going take more toe off and leave some extra heel! Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? It might even be crazy to think you will be paying them over $100 per hour. Why would anyone ever need a grinder, forge, special tools, fancy rigs, etc?
While it can seem like that, I can assure you there is a lot more to it. Think about it this way… What would you say if you were asked to explain how to fly a spaceship into outer space? I would say first you’ll need to get your space suit on, crawl in the captain’s seat, do a systems check, when the command center says you’re good to go, take off and follow the navigation until you hit your destination. To think that astronauts spend most of their lives learning how to do that, I could have saved them a lot of time!
I’m certain there is a lot more to it than that. In fact, I’ll bet if you were to ask a real astronaut how to fly a spaceship, he would take over an hour to explain the take-off procedure!
As with anything, if you ask any passionate professional about their trade, it will sound more like a love story then a job. I love hoof care and I believe that we owe it to the horse to do our very best job trimming or shoeing possible. After all, the horse can’t tell us what he’s thinking or feeling, so we really need to be paying attention to what his posture and actions are telling us. Most of the time in life we get what we pay for. If you’re lucky enough to find a farrier who cares enough about your horse to take too long or charge too much, you might be better off than you think.
God Bless America
Lee Olsen CJF