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Thursday January 27, 2022

The Cost of Shoeing a Horse

Written by Ray Miller
Category: Essays For Horse Owners
Hits: 11517

When you search for a farrier, one of the first things to consider is the cost of shoeing and trimming. Do you really know what it should cost to have your horses trimmed and shod? There are many factors to consider: Is the person full- time or part-time? Does he or she belong to any farriers' organizations? Does the farrier have an education (farrier school, college degrees, etc.)? How long has the person been shoeing? Will the person do what is good for the horse or what the owner or trainer wants, whether it is in the horse's best interests or not?

Back to the original question: WHAT DOES IT COST THE FARRIER TO SHOE YOUR HORSE?

The answer can be found by calculating costs, just as any other type of business must. In this article I am going to look at a full-time professional farrier with no other source of income - no full or part-time job, no inheritance, and not living at home with parents, and no spousal support.

Salary - What the farrier wants to earn for a gross income (before taxes): Beginning Farrier - Six weeks shoeing school, $24,000.00 a year. Journeyman Farrier with continuing education - $36,000.00 a year. Master Farrier with continuing education - $40,000.00 a year. Add a college degree of a four year BS/Equine Science, add $5000.00 a year to base salary; a six-year degree, M/S Equine Science, add $8,000.00 per year. If the person has teaching credentials and further education, you could add $25,000.00 per year to the base salary. These figures are what the average is outside the equine industry and within the sales force that services the equine industry.

Let us say our farrier is a Journeyman with a four-year college degree. His salary should be around $41,000.00 per year, divided by twelve months = $3,416.00 per month, divided by 4.33 weeks in a month = $788.91 per week. Let's say the farrier is a suburban shoer, working an 8-hour day. This person's day rate is then $157.78 a day; averaging five horses per day = $31.55 per horse in just labor. But the farrier wants that income for the year. So you need to add the cost of two weeks vacation to that total, and the cost of eight traditional holidays (Christmas, New Years, Easter, Labor day, etc.). Then add a couple of paid sick days per years of service (let's say five days), and a couple of personal days. So now, instead of 359.8 days a year, your shoer is working 234.80 days at $170.00 per day, divided by five horses = $34.00 per horse.

We must plan for retirement for the end of a long, hard journey of say, 20 to 45 years. The farrier should have been putting away 10% of his income (which is $341.60 a month), of which the employer, in most cases, places matching funds. These funds must be figured into the cost of the business of shoeing a horse. The amount comes to $4099.20 per year, divided by the number of shoeings of 1174 = $3.49 per shoeing. Trims would increase $1.27.

Now factor in his business expenses. "What expenses?" you say. First is transportation to your location. A van or shoeing truck, new, costs $25,000. If you drive 200 miles per day, 46,960 miles per year and it lasts about three years, that's $8,333.33 per year in replacement cost, or $7.00 per horse. Don't forget the cost of operating the truck. Instead of figuring the cost of gas, and tires, insurance, maintenance, I will use the average payment to a person using their own car for an employer. This is now 32 cents per mile, or $15,027.20 per year, or $12.80 per horse. Total transportation cost per horse = $19.80. Also keep in mind that any service person coming to your home or office charges a trip charge, such as Sears & Roebuck, local phone company, plumber, office machine repair and veterinarians, to name a few.

Continuing education: This person will want to attend the farrier's conventions and workshops. Going to a couple of seminars within the year, they will need to figure in travel expense and the cost of being away from the business, for a total of 10 days throughout the year, $6500.00 = $5.53 per horse.

Remember a full-time professional will carry insurance: Health insurance at $3000.00 per year, Care, Custody & Control, $1200.00, Liability, $2500.00 per year, truck, $3000.00 per year, comprehensive on equipment, $1500 per year, Worker's Compensation, $1200.00 = $10.56 per horse.

An employee: To do what? Many, many things: bookkeeping, answer the phone, designing and sending newsletters, working in the field with horses, answering mail, working with owners to increase their understanding of what the farrier is doing. At $20,000.00 per year plus insurance, vacation, taxes, Worker's Compensation = $26,000.00 per year = $22 per horse. Also remember that even if a farrier doesn't hire a person to do this type of work, he will do it himself or hire someone outside the business, such as H & R Block or temporary office help. Remember that time is money; whether under a horse or sitting in an office, he or she is still working because of your horse.

You have office expenses in the home of $2600, phone (incoming and outgoing lines, 800 number) = $6000.00 per year. Replacement of office equipment (ink cartridges, paper, computer parts etc.), and repair $1500 per year = $8.60 per horse.

Advertising and Marketing: $5,000 (newspaper ads, flyers, postage, reminder cards, horse fairs, etc.) per year = $4.25 per horse.

Cost of replacing shoeing equipment and lost equipment, (forge, gas tanks, hand tools, apron, rasp, shoeing knife, etc.) $200 per month = $2.04 per horse.

Trade publication subscriptions (ANVIL, Wisconsin Horseman, American Farriers Journal, Hoofcare & Lameness, Michael Plumb's Horse Journal, EQUUS, Western Horsemen etc.) total $300 per year = .25 per horse.

Membership in trade associations are $300 per year = .25 per horse.

The cost of keg shoes and nails = $6.75 per horse. Specialty and therapeutic shoes, hot forging, all add additional costs.

The total cost of shoeing your one horse is $127.88.

If your farrier is just trimming horses, you would deduct the cost of shoes, which would leave you at $121.13, divided by three horses, $40.37 per horse. A farrier can usually trim three horses in the same time needed to shoe one horse.

If this is a true business, we have only talked about expenses and not about the business making a profit. Any business owner wants to make a profit on the money they have put into the business. A fair profit is 13% on investment. Add another $16.24 on the cost of shoeing or a total of $144.50 to shoe and $45.61 to trim a horse.

One thing you will need to remember - other items do run up the cost of shoeing and trimming. If you are the one - two - three - horse owner, or you are out in the country and cannot put a group of horses together for the farrier to spend the day, travel expense increases. If you are a long way out, he or she has a lot of travel time, and possibly overnight expenses. Or, if your horse has a problem about standing quietly for the farrier and it takes longer to shoe or trim, the farrier cannot complete as much work. Time is money to your farrier. As a rural owner, you should expect to pay a higher rate than at a large barn or an area that has a lot of horses in it, just as you should if you have hard-to-handle animals.

Also, think about the quality of the farrier's work. How much work experience and farrier education does the person have? Does he or she do a lot of therapeutic work? Is your farrier in demand? Working after hours or on weekends and holidays? Remember that most full-time farriers start early in the morning and are expected to work when you get home from your job in the evening. Some will work 20-hour days. Horseshoeing is not a hobby for them; it is a full-time profession.

Other things can bring the cost down. For example, is he or she only shoeing part-time, not running a true business, cutting corners on expenses, or is there another full-time job covering some expenses, such as personal insurance? Is it the family van or truck, instead of company equipment? Is your shoer young and living at home with parents? Or staying within a few miles of the home? Do you bring the horse to the farrier? Does this person only do one or two horses a week for extra money, thereby keeping the cost down?

Remember that a full-time professional farrier will see a lot more problems and triple the number of feet that a part-time farrier will see. The proper insurance will be in force to protect both the owner and the farrier. And he or she will definitely have a better understanding of the equine.

Now you know why a lot of farriers and horseshoers come and go: Very few can afford to stay in the business. The full-timer soon learns that he or she can go to work as a truck driver and make $35,000.00 per year, or a brick layer at $35.00 per hour plus benefits. They also have evenings, holidays and weekends off. Never getting kicked, bitten or pawed are added benefits.

Your full-time professional farrier also becomes an extra set of eyes. He or she will look at your horse in an independent, objective way, giving you insight as to what is happening with the entire animal. The shoer may spot problems that you have not seen. By seeing the horse regularly, he or she may identify changes taking place; if so, you should contact a veterinarian. As an owner, this input is invaluable.

So the next time you shop for a shoer because yours is no longer in business, think about why. Your farrier has probably gotten tired from working double shifts or found a better job. Those who stay in the business are usually there for the love of the horse.

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