How to Become a Horse Farrier: Essential Guide

An Essential Guide to Becoming a Horse Farrier

As an equestrian and horse lover, your dream job is likely something that involves horses. While many of us enjoy riding, training, or even boarding horses, others prefer to pursue something more specialized such as becoming an equine veterinarian or horse farrier. 

So, how do you become a horse farrier? The road to becoming a horse farrier will depend greatly on the country in which you live. While you do not need a professional certification to become a horse farrier in the United States, it will provide you with greater opportunities in the field. Most people become a horse farrier by apprenticing with a horse farrier in their area of attending an accredited farrier school to receive training.

Although horse farriers in the United States are not required to obtain a professional certification, farriers in the United Kingdom must be certified by completing a four-year apprenticeship and subsequent exam. For the purposes of this article, we will be looking at the path an aspiring horse farrier must follow to begin practicing this profession in the United States.

What Does a Horse Farrier Do? 

Traditionally a profession occupied by middle-aged men, the field of horse farriers is now full of both men and women of all ages! Working as a horse farrier is a great way to work directly with horses in a unique capacity. 

Horse farriers use special tools to trim and care for the hooves of horses. Additionally, they adjust and fit horses with horseshoes. To be a successful horse farrier, you must be determined and committed as working in this field is both physically and mentally demanding. 

A professional horse farrier can have an incredible impact on the gait of a horse, aiding in their performance. In order to have success in the field, you must have a passion for horses and the education necessary to evaluate and improve a horse’s gait.

What Skills Does a Horse Farrier Need?

Working as a horse farrier is not as simple as one may assume. Successful horse farriers possess a wide range of skills as well as mental and physical stamina. The technical skills necessary to work as a horse farrier include the ability to change and adjust horseshoes, clean horse hooves and trim them when necessary. Most farriers also offer some form of therapeutic horseshoes for horses that are lame or injured. 

To know how to properly clean a horse’s hooves, check out my article Cleaning a Horse’s Hooves: Easy Illustrated Guide.

In addition to the technical skills a horse farrier acquires through their apprenticeship or traditional education, it is also important that farriers understand the anatomy of a horse as well as basic veterinary care for horses. Many times, farriers will identify warning signs of infection or injury when working with a horse. You must be able to effectively communicate the need for professional attention from an equine veterinarian.

Horse farriers spend their days working with horses of all ages, breeds, and temperaments. They must have excellent skills in horsemanship as well as several years of riding experience. This will provide a horse farrier with additional insight into proper horse gait and care. 

In addition to being able to work well with horses, horse farriers must also be able to communicate with their owners. The most successful horse farriers work on a referral basis which requires a strong foundation of connections in the equine community. 

At the end of the day, becoming a horse farrier is not an easy task. It requires a skill set that is quite diverse. For this reason, it is important to conduct adequate research before heading down the path to becoming a horse farrier. For individuals with the skills necessary to succeed in this field, it is both financially and emotionally rewarding! 

Becoming a Professional Horse Farrier

So, how exactly do you become a professional horse farrier? If, after reading through the skills necessary to excel in this career you believe it holds promise for your future, continue reading! 

Learn About the Profession

The most important step to becoming a professional horse farrier is to learn everything you can about the profession. Spend time talking to farriers, reading about the work of a horse farrier, and improving upon the skills you will need to succeed. 

Shadow a Local Horse Farrier

Before you begin your official training to become a horse farrier, it is an excellent idea to shadow a horse farrier in your area. Many times, horse farriers will allow interested individuals to shadow them for a day or a week to get a better feel for what the field is really like on a daily basis. 

It is wise to establish these connections at the start of your career as an experienced horse farrier will be able to offer incredible guidance and insight. Be sure to ask plenty of questions during your time with the farrier including their most and least favorite parts of the job and what their typical schedule involves throughout the year.

Train As a Horse Farrier

Of course, the most important step to becoming a horse farrier is to receive the education necessary. Especially in the United States, there are several ways to receive this training.

Work With an Experienced Farrier

The traditional method for becoming a professional horse farrier was to apprentice with an experienced farrier. Following the apprenticeship path often requires several years to obtain the skills and education necessary to take your own clients. For this reason, aspiring horse farriers today tend to choose a different route.

Attend an Accredited Farrier School

Most aspiring horse farriers today choose to attend one of the several horseshoeing and farrier schools located throughout the United States. In these programs, you will gain a solid foundation for the skills you will need to succeed in this field. Most of these programs take only a few months compared to several years of apprenticeship. 

Professional associations such as the American Farrier’s Association compile lists of farrier schools that they endorse. You can find a list of approved farrier schools here.

Complete an Apprenticeship

Even if you choose to attend a farrier school, you may still need to complete an apprenticeship. In addition to providing you with additional education and experience, an apprenticeship allows you to gain valuable hands-on experience before you begin to accept your own clients. 

Some farrier schools may recommend an apprenticeship that correlates with your time in school while others may prefer you complete your apprenticeship upon graduation.

Obtain Certification if Necessary

In the United Kingdom, horse farriers must obtain and maintain professional certification. While this is not necessary in the United States, there are many benefits to pursuing this additional certification. 

Certification through an organization such as the American Farriers Association is a great way to set yourself apart from others in the industry. In some cases, a certification may allow you to charge more for your services. The American Farriers Association offers several certifications for everyone from entry-level farriers to advanced farriers. This is a great way to continue to learn more about your profession.

Consider Working Alongside a Horse Farrier 

Once you have completed your training and obtained any necessary certification, you are ready to begin working as a professional horse farrier! At this point, you can decide which route you would like to take to begin to build your clientele. Most horse farriers work for themselves, establishing a client base through word-of-mouth.

However, it may be to your advantage to work alongside an experienced horse farrier for a few years as you continue to gain experience. If you have established connections with local horse farriers, they may be willing to offer you a spot on their team, especially if they have an expansive client base. 

If you choose to start your own business, there will be several steps you need to take to ensure your horse farrier business is legal. These include registering your business with the state, obtaining the necessary insurance, and establishing your business from a legal standpoint.

It is important to remember that it will take patience and dedication to build your client base. However, by offering high-quality services and displaying your expertise in the field, you will be able to create a lucrative career for yourself. 

Average Salary of a Horse Farrier

Passion for your field is important, but if you are considering pursuing a career as a horse farrier, you are likely wondering how much money you can really make! The average salary of a horse farrier varies greatly depending on your geographical location, experience level, certifications, and the demand in your area.

For example, if there are not many farriers in your area, you will be able to build your clientele more quickly. If you live in a more saturated area, you may have more difficulty finding new clients and thus, make less money.

A part-time horse farrier at the beginning of their career makes around $24,000 a year. However, farriers working full-time with several years of experience may have the ability to make up to $90,000 a year! The best way to determine an average starting salary for horse farriers in your area is to ask other professionals if they would be willing to share that information.

Working as a horse farrier can be an incredibly rewarding career for horse lovers and equestrians. In addition to being mentally and physically rewarding, becoming a horse farrier allows you to spend your entire day around horses – what could be better? To learn about more horse careers, check out my article Top 10 Horse Careers (That Actually Pay Well.)


P.S. Save this to your “Horse Careers” board!

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Carmella Abel, Pro Horse Trainer

Hi! I’m Carmella

My husband and I started Equine Helper to share what we’ve learned about owning and caring for horses. I’ve spent my whole life around horses, and I currently own a POA named Tucker. You can learn more here.

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