Entering into any profession in the equine industry takes a good bit of consideration, a heavy measure of dedication, an ability to embrace hard work, and an unbreakable love for all things horse.
Deciding to pursue a career in hoof care requires a few extra special talents and abilities.
Some of those talents will get you looked at sideways, and more than a few are not exactly topics of polite conversation.
Here are five things to consider before making the leap to becoming a hoof care service provider.
1. Hoof Aroma is the “Gift That Keeps On Giving”
When you think you have scrubbed it off of your hands, rest assured you have not. Chances are your nose has just become immune to the smell (or is permanently damaged from the extreme levels of funk.) If by some miracle you are able to minimize the Eau De Sole on your person, yet still capture whiffs the elusive fragrance, this is not your imagination. There are just some lovely scents that cling (to the inside of your sinuses) like an ever-present memory. (Note, spraying air freshener into your nasal passages will NOT help.)
2. There will be blood
If the sight of blood (notably YOUR blood) is an issue, you may wish to reconsider your career choice. Or, invest in some knife-proof gloves. Or a suit similar to what is worn by the shark divers. (I have met horses that left me wishing for a suit of armor.) Pro tip: duct tape and a bit of (clean-ish) shirt are acceptable bandage options. Wiping your bleeding appendage on the client who insists, “That better NOT be my horse’s blood!” is maybe not such a great idea and does tend to complicate the farrier-client relationship. (Or so I’ve heard.)
3. Patience is a virtue
No, not with the horses. Most of us who have been infatuated with horses for any length of time have a great deal of patience with their antics. In this case, the patience comes with dealing with the owners. You will hear and see an amazing variety of things, such as clients pulling up how-to videos and insisting you follow those steps for shoeing their horse. More often than not, the invitation to the private viewing of the educational video on their mobile device begins with the words, “Hey, you aren’t doing that like this dude on this here video did it! See, you just need to watch…”
4. Be prepared to spend a fair amount of time in your vehicle
Considering it your mobile office helps. I do caution against giving people a lift in your mobile office. Those previously discussed aromas (See: #1) are even more difficult to remove from your vehicle. On the upside, it will cut down on the number of times someone asks you for a ride to the grocery store, right?
5. Your dedication to the craft will arm you with a wealth of knowledge
At times, clients will look with admiration at your skills and appreciate your efforts to stay abreast of new changes in the industry. Other times, they will request some education themselves. For instance, a client may request you teach them how to trim their own horse, and ask to borrow your tools to learn, so that they may save a bit of money. There are several acceptable responses, from a polite, “I am so sorry, but my insurance does not allow me to teach people this dangerous job” to handing them the tools and instructing them to proceed to the right hind leg for their first lesson in trimming. It generally is not long before the potential student decides that their old college knee injury is not going to allow them to continue their education under the horse.
Yes, being a hoof care provider is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. It will provide you with a deep sense of satisfaction, stories to look back on and laugh (or cringe) at, and an unmatched ability to think outside the box and come up with solutions to problems on the fly. If you have a sense of humor and the patience of a Saint, I highly suggest it!
About the Author
Shannon Harrell is a life-long horse lover and retired hoof care provider. She lives in the southeast, with her loving husband, sons, two horses and several wily felines.