How to Be a Farrier

Three Parts:Learning About the TradeTraining to Be a FarrierStarting Your Farrier Business

Farriers fit and change horseshoes, but they also make custom horseshoes by forging them from iron. Therefore, a farrier’s work is a combination of caring for horses and blacksmithing. Being a farrier is hard work, so you should take some time to learn more about the profession before you pursue training. If you want to become a farrier, then there are programs at colleges as well as long-term apprenticeships that you can complete. After you gain your credentials, you can start your own farrier business.

Part 1
Learning About the Trade

  1. Image titled Be a Farrier Step 1
    Learn about the profession. Before you decide to become a farrier, it is a good idea to learn as much as you can about the profession. Being a farrier is hard work, but it also requires a genuine interest in caring for horses. As a farrier, you would:
    • Travel to your clients to change horseshoes, clean and trim hooves, and provide therapeutic shoes for lame horses.
    • Have knowledge of horse anatomy and veterinary care, and advise horse owners if there is a problem that requires veterinary attention.
    • Communicate well with horse owners as well as have excellent horsemanship skills.
    • Work mainly with your hands, but you will also need good problem solving skills.[1]
  2. Image titled Be a Farrier Step 2
    Consider your ability to do the work. Farriers should have a passion for working with horses, but they should also be willing and able to perform hard manual labor on a daily basis. A farrier spends the day standing, stooping, kneeling, bending, and lifting. Farriers also often have to forge custom shoes, which is also physically challenging.
    • Keep in mind that being a farrier requires excellent physical health and a high level of physical fitness.[2] You will need to keep yourself in good physical condition to do your job, similar to an athlete.
    • Be aware that you may end up working weekends, odd hours, and in bad weather as well. You will often have to accommodate your clients’ schedules.
    • You will also need to have a driver’s license and a reliable vehicle to visit your clients and bring your tools along with you.
  3. Image titled Be a Farrier Step 3
    Shadow a farrier. Shadowing a farrier can give you a good idea of what the work entails. If you have never spent a day with a farrier before, then you might want to find a farrier in your area and ask to go along with him or her for a day to see what the work is like. Try to find an experienced farrier so that you can ask questions, such as:
    • What is the most challenging part of your job?
    • How many clients do you visit each week?
    • What is a typical day like for you?
  4. Image titled Be a Farrier Step 4
    Evaluate your ability make a career as a farrier. Living in a rural area (or at least an area with a lot of horses) is essential to being able to make it as a farrier. Consider the horse population in your area to determine whether or not you could make a career as a farrier.[3]
    • Even if there are lots of farriers in your area, you may still be able to make a good living if you are willing to get advanced certifications and to provide excellent service.
    • Keep in mind that you should also really enjoy working with horses in order to be successful as a farrier. If you are only looking at the career from a money-making perspective, then it may be hard for you to be successful.

Part 2
Training to Be a Farrier

  1. Image titled Be a Farrier Step 5
    Apply to an accredited farrier school. It is important to find a school that is accredited so that your coursework will be acknowledged by any professional organizations that you wish to join. Attending a farrier school can also speed up your path to becoming a professional farrier, since some schools offer programs that you can complete in a few months rather than a few years.[4]
    • You might also want to consider programs that pair business courses with the farrier coursework in order to increase your chances of running a successful business when you graduate.[5]
  2. Image titled Be a Farrier Step 6
    Complete the coursework. Coursework for farriers is often completed alongside practical experiences, such as forge work and horseshoeing. Course work for farriers often includes things like:[6]
    • horse anatomy
    • making tools
    • welding
    • shoeing horses
    • veterinary care
  3. Image titled Be a Farrier Step 7
    Find an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship provides hands-on job experience under the supervision of an experienced farrier. Depending on the requirements of your training program, you may complete an apprenticeship alongside your coursework, in place of coursework, or after completing your coursework.
    • A four year apprenticeship with an Accredited Training Farrier (ATF) is required to work as a farrier in the United Kingdom. During the apprenticeship, you would also be required to complete coursework and take exams.[7]
  4. Image titled Be a Farrier Step 8
    Get certified. Getting certified as a farrier is required by some countries, but not all. For example, certification is required to work as a farrier in the United Kingdom, but it is not required in the United States.[8] However, you can get certified in a country that does not require certification as a way to set yourself apart and gain more clients.[9]
    • In the United States, the American Farriers Association offers certification levels ranging from entry level to advanced.[10]

Part 3
Starting Your Farrier Business

  1. Image titled Be a Farrier Step 9
    Register your business. If you plan to do business under a special name rather than using your own name, then you will need to register your business. For example, if you plan to do business under the name “Friendly Farrier Service,” then you will need to visit your local clerk’s office to register this name.
    • License your business if necessary. Depending on your state’s laws, you may need to obtain a license for your business as well. For example, a business license is required for farrier business owners in California.[11]
  2. Image titled Be a Farrier Step 10
    Get health, disability, and liability insurance. Being a farrier can be dangerous because you are working closely with horses as well as doing other dangerous tasks, like forging and welding. Before you start working, you will need to ensure that you are well covered in the event of an accident.
    • Health insurance is extremely important for farriers. Don’t opt for the bare minimum insurance options if you can help it. It is likely that you will need to use your insurance at some point, so paying a bit more every month is better than having to pay a lot more out of pocket if you get seriously injured.
    • Disability insurance will provide you with some security in case you are injured and cannot work for a while.
    • Liability insurance provides some protection for you in case one of your customers is injured or if his or her property (including the horse) is damaged by you or as a result of your work.[12]
  3. Image titled Be a Farrier Step 11
    Build your client base. You can gain clients by taking on clients that experienced farriers do not want or cannot accommodate, by meeting new clients at horse shows, and by telling people about your business and handing out business cards. Building your reputation as a good farrier is especially important for gaining clients, so make sure that you always provide excellent service to your new and existing clients.
    • You may want to try to work as an assistant to an experienced farrier until you have enough clients of your own to support a business.
    • Do your best to maintain good relationships with your clients, such as by showing up on time for your appointments and listening to your clients’ needs.
  4. Image titled Be a Farrier Step 12
    Continue to gain knowledge of your trade. Continuing education is essential for your success as a farrier. Don’t end your education with a basic certification. Keep learning about your trade and gain as many certifications as you can.[13]
    • Stay up to date on new developments within your trade.
    • Attend conferences, horse shows, and other equine events.
    • Take advanced courses and challenge yourself to apply for advanced certifications as well.


  • Never try to perform the work of a farrier without proper training! You could seriously injure or even cripple a horse if you don’t know what you are doing. It is also quite dangerous for you. Go through training and seek the guidance of an experienced farrier before attempting to clean, change, or remove horseshoes.

Article Info

Categories: Horse Grooming