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TOPIC: Any advice on starting out?

RE:Any advice on starting out? 22 Sep 2004 03:50 #16

  • calshoer
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Jason I never intended to imply that you personally were either uneducated or backward and sorry if anything came acros that way. It was Scott specifically who clearly stated that farriers were neither "good or knowledgeable" (His own words) if they could not hand make shoes on a "CJF level", hence the whole discusion. As for your own net profit handmaking vs keg, you are a lot faster making them than a lot of farriers I know who handmake. (Good for you that IS the kind of forge skill I respect). Patty
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RE:Any advice on starting out? 22 Sep 2004 12:02 #17

  • shoesofiron
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calshoer wrote:
It was Scott specifically who clearly stated that farriers were neither "good or knowledgeable" (His own words) if they could not hand make shoes on a "CJF level", hence the whole discusion. Patty

Ummm... that's not what I said.

I said that IN MY OPINION, you wouldn't call a guy a plumber if he couldn't cut and thread pipe from scratch, or a carpenter if he couldn't read a plan, measure, cut and nail a board to fit properly (At least I don't know of anywhere that they'd get hired for a job fitting that description).
So I drew the correlation to farriers who don't even have the basic forging skills to be able to build a shoe if the job called for it.
So the skill (again in my opinion) is not archaic. It is needed in this trade, or at least it should be.
How many times in a day does a guy need to be able to build a shoe? Not many. But they are out there.
Maybe I should take a class on PVC glueing to help my shoeing skills?
All I was trying to get through to this guy about "Any advice on starting out?" was that being able to build shoes would benefit him, to pursue excellence in all aspects of the trade and the shortcuts would come in time.

calshoer wrote:
What good does it do if a farrier can make handmade heart bars with contest winning handmade creases and perfectly boxed heels if the package he built does not truly address the cause the foot problem becausee he doesnl't truly understand the root cause of thagt heel pain? Such as why the frog got so puny and thin, or setting an improper breakover point relative to the tip of P3 ,(or not knowing why that is SO important), or not recognizing the significance of those bent bars ,or what the dip in the hairline at he toe is telling him ,and so on. .Now don't get me wrong, many terrific handmade farriers DO get all those things , but many more do not even though they can forge those very same shoes wit hthe same accuracy

Okay, let's examine that for a minute. I would have to agree with you that it does no good to be able to build a pretty shoe if it doesn't work. So what?
You're saying that there is too much emphasis on forging and not enough on science.
But you know what? the kids (I can use that term too) coming out of these schools today have neither forging skills nor science. Oh they have a basic understanding but that's all. There are very, very few schools out there today that emphasize the need to associate with a learned farrier to become what it is this trade needs and that's proficiency in both.
They're coming out of schools full of themselves and the hope that all they have to do is undercut the next guy, find a way to do it cheaper and their books will be full in a matter of weeks or months.
They are not instilled with the price of ethics or the value an experienced mentor can bring them.
I see it around here every year. They "go to shoeing school", come back, advertise "low rates" and "top quality", offer multi-horse discounts at fees that are below most seasoned farriers costs.
Of course, 90% of them are gone before the snow flies but the results still ligner in the minds of many horse owners that "it shouldn't cost that much to shoe a horse" so the value of a decent, seasoned farrier is constantly being eroded by the values taught in these schools and one of the most important aspects of horsemanry is being standardized by unskilled, poorly trained iron hangers that couldn't build a shoe if their life depended on it.
And you're right, it's the horse that suffers for it.
But the remaining ten per cent that try and stick it out quickly abandon most forging and opt instead for volume, merely closing up a keg, or opening up a heel, slap it on, rasp off the reamining wall and call it even, move on to the next client that sees a cheap fix for a problem that would benefit from someone more qualified and knowledgeable.
So along with forging and science, we need to be better educators of the public because the vast majority of them owning horses today couldn't tell a good shoe job from a ****-**, **** and I don't know HOW many times I've shown up at a barn, fired up the forge and had them ask me, "what's that?!"

One more thing while I'm on a roll.
Something you also didn't see in Professional Farrier magazine:
You didn't see any so-called techniques that could possibly harm a horse like putting spikes on a heel to be driven into the hoof capsul to prevent shoe pulling. You didn't see weirdo-fringe tactics for shoeing a hundred horses a week. You didn't see fads represented as science promoted by manufacturers of the fad.
For my money, I think if we can support this new magazine, it will more accurately reflect the true science of farriery over the long haul than the Journal, who (again) in my opinion , sold out ethics in favor of the almighty dollar. Let's keep raising the bar instead of lowering it.
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RE:Any advice on starting out? 22 Sep 2004 14:15 #18

  • Gary_Miller
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Ok you guys.
I have been following this topic with great intrest as I to am looking into comming into this field.
But first a little about my back ground. I recently retired from the USAF after 21 yrs and have a back ground in metal fabrication doing anything with steel from 28 gauge sheetmetal to 2" plate steel.

I have an intrest in learning how to do forge work as I really enjoy seeing things come to shape as you pound them out and manipulate the hot steel. And personal want to learn this lost art of blacksmithing.

But, I have some comments and question about this subject.

First of all I don't see the big deal in making shoes from skratch or using a weilder to modify factory shoes idf the end result is the same. I'm sure that some of you are really good at the forge and can make a shoe very quick, and I think this is great. But given a pattern or a sketch, or just my shelf knowing what needs done I can make anything you can using a arc weilder and torch that will so the same job and probably a whole lot quicker. So I don.t see the big deal placed by some in forge work. SO PLEASE EXPLAN?

Also, I see alot of complants of others under cutting the cost of others. I don't see whats wrong with charging less than others if your cost allow it. In any busness you have overhead and other costs. Some peoples overhead may be higher than others do to the quality of equipment and materials used, type of vehical driven, distance required to travel, as well as desired wages earned. It all called the cost of busness. personaly I would rather charge my customers the least I can and have a large customer base that keeps me busy. Than charge large exoparant fees that cause my customers to keep looking around for lower fees. SO WHAT DO YOU THINK WHAT IS A FAR CHARGE TO SHOE A HORSE THAT DOES NOT REQUIRE ANY SPEACIAL REQUIREMENTS? (I.E plan old backyard pleasure horse.)

Gary
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RE:Any advice on starting out? 22 Sep 2004 18:01 #19

  • solidrockshoer
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Airborne, I agree with Red Amor and the others. When I went to school in '78, we had classroom for 3 hrs then the rest of the day pounding out shoes to develop our skills and our eyes. When a horse came in we either took turns working or watching. What Patty said about the availablity of all the new shoes has made our lives easier and our careers as farriers longer. This profession has changed so much in just the passed 26yrs that I've been shoeing, I can only imagine what the next 20 so yrs has in store for all of us. Starting out when I did ,you were lucky if another farrier even spoke to you, because they were afraid you were going to steal their clients. And you were really looked down on if you shod cold. Now I used to carry a coal forge on my truck and every shoe on every horse was worked hot. Now days with a propane forge and the selection of shoes ,they still get worked hot on the first shapeing and usually set hot but to be honest not all. On a 98 degree day with the heat index over 105, I let the forge stay cool, unless I really need it. To get to your point, this is a business and if you treat it and your clients with respect, you will get it in return! If they don't let someone else put up with them. Read and watch other farriers and ask questions! Now days most farriers WILL let you look on without the fear of you learning from them. Go to clinics and buddy up with other farriers for alittle forge work practice, it goes along way with knocking down walls that farriers build around themselves. Cook outs with a cold one after practice is good for the spirit also! Best of Luck, it ain't supposed to be easy because good farriers DO make it look easy! Good Luck! Gary
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RE:Any advice on starting out? 22 Sep 2004 20:56 #20

The scottish hind preventer was sort of a joke Patty, but you did say you could make anything. Anyway, I got out of school and went right to nailing on the cheapest shoe I could find. I didn't care about width, length or weight. Support to me was getting the heels pretty much covered. Shaping a shoe was not an option as it took way to much time to do it properly, I would open or close and nail it up. Even shoeing my own horses I would get terribly frustrated trying to properly shape a shoe. Then I began working with a local farrier that happened to be a CJF. He had me in the fire all the time, and by learning to make a hand made shoe I learned how to shape a keg shoe. I don't put on alot of handmade shoes, but when I need to I can. I have a horse that is short backed and long legged. Terrible TB feet typical thin soles and shelly hoofwall. Now other than preach to the lady that owns him and I myself start managing the surroundings and feed that this horse gets my option is to keep shoes on. He is 15.2 and a 00 Kerchart is too big, a 000 is too small. I tried the 00 pulled them off in less than an hour. Not to mention that the nail holes didn't line up well cause he has thin hoof walls. Now how do I get a nice rather wide web shoe on this horse to support his already failing hoofwall and keep a shoe on. I hand made the shoe out of 5/16x3/4, I put the nail holes where I want them so they do the best job while doing little damage and low and behold the shoes stayed on. Now I could've cut the heels off and punched brand new nail holes in a keg shoe but that would really only look like ****. He has the exact size peice of steel that he needs with nail holes where they work. Not everyone needs to make handmade shoes, but the sooner you learn how to make handmades the sooner you understand how to manipulate steel the sooner you can properly shape a shoe. I don't know if you meant to but you imply that people that enjoy forging somehow are ignorant of modern scientific breakthroughs in farriery and that is offensive. It is simply another tool in your box. You like to carry around welders and grinders and 1000 different types and sizes of shoes then go ahead, I carry what I need and an assortment of different sized steel and aluminum and get by just fine with a much lower overhead than you scientists. I don't care if you use handmades, I think you should have the ability, couple that with the science and you have a well rounded well balanced tradesman or woman. If you want to have $5000 worth of equipment in your truck so you can work smarter that's fine, but don't insinuate that folks like Scott, and Jason and myself are somehow less knowledgable cause we make shoes.
Dave
"Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects." Will Rogers

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RE:Any advice on starting out? 23 Sep 2004 02:01 #21

;) Life is a funny game: After telling how I had not been using keggers, I used three pair today as I ended up with two more horses that I did not have time to do. I am not a great forgeman, Patty. I do not know how to build most "contest" shoes. I have built a ton(probobly literaly) of horseshoes some I just pitched because they were ******* devices. I am a little obsessive and spent a lot of hours on perfecting little steps. The result is efficiency in building simple horseshoes, or making a steel donut with holes poked in it look like a horses foot. I will agree that the trim is the biggest part, but forging , in my opinion, should be stressed and encouraged to rookies as well.
The exchange of ideas and opinions makes us all think, which is a good thing. I hope we have not confused the original poster to much. If he goes to school, he will be confused for a couple of years( God knows I was!) :D
"Always listen to the experts. They tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it." Robert Heinlien
Jason Maki CJF, RJF
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RE:Any advice on starting out? 23 Sep 2004 04:31 #22

millergs wrote:
Ok you guys.
...I don't see the big deal in making shoes from skratch or using a weilder to modify factory shoes idf the end result is the same. I'm sure that some of you are really good at the forge and can make a shoe very quick, and I think this is great. But given a pattern or a sketch, or just my shelf knowing what needs done I can make anything you can using a arc weilder and torch that will so the same job and probably a whole lot quicker. So I don.t see the big deal placed by some in forge work. SO PLEASE EXPLAN?
Gary

Hi Gary,

I kinda fall in the middle on this. Although I started in an era when you had to make your own shoes most of the time, I've been pleased to see the advancements in the marketplace and the availability of good keg shoes, so pleased that I spent a number of years making the arguments that Patty is making here, and I believe she makes a valid point. We can get so involved in the fire that we forget the horse. And--for some--it's an easy way to convince yourself that you've got a handle on this trade--forging is sequenced and there are constants that are much easier to find in the fire than in the foot.

Despite those beliefs, I have to agree with Dave, Scott, Jason, and others when they say that the fire will make you a better and more efficient farrier. It makes you visualize and internalize patterns that you're not going to get otherwise. People can talk about nail hole placement, location, and pitch all they want to, but when you make a shoe for a foot, you better get it in all the dimensions. I think Scott's analogy to carpentry is good.... I don't care if the guy building my house uses pre-fabricated trusses and puts them up with a nail gun, but if he's got the knowledge and skill base to do it the old way, I'm more comfortable that he's a well-rounded professional craftsman and not simply a technician.

In days of old, you didn't pull a ther-apeutic shoe out of a box and nail it on. There was an investment involved. You had to know about it and learn it and its use and application, and you had to build it before you could apply it. There was a whole learning process involved, which lent itself to application and well-rounded application. Now, if someone wants to nail on a heartbar shoe, they can buy it, apply it, and never have any understanding of it.

In any case, I use pre-fabricated shoes all the time; they're the mainstay of my work. But I don't have horses with pre-fabricated feet, and when it comes time to put steel on those feet, I'm a better farrier for being able to fire up my forge and make a shoe that's punched coarse or fine, pitched hard or up, shaped for a front or a hind, bar or open, etc. I could get around it by carrying inventory, but when you have two pair of shoes hanging on your racks that cost more than $100, and you start looking at what you would want to cover all the possibilities, that's more inventory than I ever want. And I could get around it by carrying a welder, but then I'd have to carry a generator or get a new group of clients with better electric... so I play in the fire and have fun developing skills that enhance my work.
~~Danvers

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RE:Any advice on starting out? 23 Sep 2004 05:13 #23

calshoer wrote:
Where the need lies is in learning the newest SCIENCE. That brings up an example...How many of you noticed that the last 'Profesional Farrier' magazine had absolutely NO articles about the foot or foot function, or "how to" on treating any lameness in the last issue. NOT ONE. Just about the entire magazine was devoted to forging or contests,, with a few business and human interest articles.
NOT ONE article on the science of the equine foot.

Patty


Patty,

It's been months since I extended an invitation to you, asking for an article, and I apologize for not being more aggressive in my solicitations. I feel certain that our readership would welcome more articles of the sort you suggest. Unfortunately, critique is easier than creation, and--using your emphasis--NOT ONE of the people who has voiced discontent concerning the magazine's content has chosen to submit an article.

You and others on these forums (some of whom I have also solicited to no avail) have valuable insights that I would love to share with the Professional Farrier readership. Nevertheless, process comes before product, and the process remains that articles have to be written and submitted before they can be published.
~~Danvers

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RE:Any advice on starting out? 23 Sep 2004 11:34 #24

  • shoesofiron
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millergs wrote:

Also, I see alot of complants of others under cutting the cost of others. I don't see whats wrong with charging less than others if your cost allow it. In any busness you have overhead and other costs. Some peoples overhead may be higher than others do to the quality of equipment and materials used, type of vehical driven, distance required to travel, as well as desired wages earned. It all called the cost of busness. personaly I would rather charge my customers the least I can and have a large customer base that keeps me busy. Than charge large exoparant fees that cause my customers to keep looking around for lower fees. SO WHAT DO YOU THINK WHAT IS A FAR CHARGE TO SHOE A HORSE THAT DOES NOT REQUIRE ANY SPEACIAL REQUIREMENTS? (I.E plan old backyard pleasure horse.)

Gary

Well Gary, the thing is that there are other intangible items that most people who don't do this for a living or are new at it don't stop to figure in when they start out like say, truck replacement costs, or attending clinics, or insurance, or even a vacation here and there. And how about being able to hide a little away from each job so we have something to live on after our bodies start giving out?
In the AFJ of Nov. '02 they showed the average fee charged for 4 cold shoes was around 84 bucks.
My costs today are around 53 dollars to shoe a horse. Tell me how a guy is supposed to compete with kids who think (and the public perceives) it's ok to charge $50.
They don't have the experience or knowledge to know that in a few years they're going to have to replace that old rust bucket with 300,000 miles on it.
The truth of the matter is that due to the intense physical strain involved, it is almost impossible to overpay a farrier. If you don't believe that, just wait until you've picked yourself up off the floor after some dink saw a pink elephant or whatever, scattered and shattered your tools and tool box, ran out the barn, crinkled a fender on your truck, runs down the road like he was hit by a lightning bolt and the owner looks at you incredulously and has the nerve to ask you what the **** you did to him because "he's never acted like that before". And then ******es because you want $35 for the trim.
Sure, there can be a few bucks difference in what most guys charge but my point was directed at the ones whose life doesn't seem to require electricity or gasoline... they can't, because they sure aren't charging for it.

Oh and Danvers, I'm working on an article on tactfulness as we speak.
:D
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RE:Any advice on starting out? 23 Sep 2004 13:50 #25

  • Gary_Miller
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Ok, I agree. You have all been really helpful in answering questions and explaining yoour point of veiw. I find it very informative to hear diffrent views and ideas. One thing I got from everyone was learning how to use the forge is as important in this trade as learning how to use a weilder was important to my last trade if you want to be a craftsman instead of a Technicin. I can see where this is important because as Danvers said there is no why you can afford to carry all the shoes you may possable need and even though a guy could use a portable weilder there are lots of things you still need to do that may not be possible with weilding equipment(duch as punching holes). I see where it would be more cost effective to have some bar stock on hand and the know how to manufature a shoe in the forge than have all the overhead in diffrent types of keg shoes. So I guess I better pay close attentioin to the forging process once I attend school.

Lots of talk abouot the science and learning it. ANY ADVISE ON A GOOD BOOK OR OTHER MATERIAL A GUY MAY READ TO LEARN THIS? I also realize some of this will come from talking to others but good resource material is always handy.

Scott your advice on cost and over head was very appreciated. Good sound knowledge and adivice. I will use it when figuring out what I should charge so as to make a living and not hurt others in the busness. I don't want to be a big box store just hanging iron.

Here so information you can use for your artical on tackfulness. WE use to say this in the military. A defintion of tack: "Tack is telling someone where to go with out him knowing it. But where he can wait to get there." Of course I use to tell people that if I wated to tell you of I wanted you to know it. Maybe thats way I was allways accused of not haveing any tack.

Thank you for you help.
Gary
(GSMiller)

oh ya, Is there any way a guy can get the Professional Farrier Magizine with out joining the AFA. Don't have the cash to join right now at the full rate and even though I currently in school it not Ferrior School so I don't think I'm eleagable for the student rate. PLEASE ADVISE.
Gary Miller, PF

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RE:Any advice on starting out? 26 Sep 2004 20:42 #26

  • Bill Adams
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Hello Gary and Airborne,
I gather that you are both vetrens, so I must say thank you for your service to our country (and to all the others).

My points to consider for those who aspire to our profession are:

Make sure the wound to your head is not infected.

Know that only about five percent of the graduates of horseshoeing schools are makeing a living as a Farrier five years later.

Spend time watching as many Farriers as posible, don't get in their way and buy them lunch.

Read Doug Buttler's book "Six figure Horseshoeing". Read the textbooks of the school you plan on attending before you get there.

Don't go to a school that dosen't belive in "all that new stuff", for the same reason you wouldn't go to a knee surgon with that attitude.

If I could do it over again, after school I would move to an area I didn't want to live. Get a night job, work for free (apprentice) with the best Farriers in the area, join the AFA and local groups, go to every clinic, enter every contest, get AFA certified, run the bisiness for a couple of years then......

Move to where you want to live as the Graduated, Certifided, Aprenticed under so and so, Expereanced, Contest Winning, BigTime, GoodLookin', Just moved in from somewere, Knows how to unload their truck like thay've done it before, New Farrier.

This way your broken feet (and the feet of the horses in the old area) will have healed. You won't have stories being told about you. You'll have learned maybe from what end of a horse the poop comes and maybe what sise shoe it should wear.

It's really simple after you've shod several thousand horses. Kind of.
Please note that I did not use the term "horseshoer" and that I used a capital "f" for the word Farrier.

As to the above discusion of Scott, Patty, Red, Dan, and Jason. Please let me say, as a way to bring peace and harmony to our comunity, that one should ALLWAYS shoe hot.

My $0.02
Bill

A rightous man regardeth the life of his beast. Proverbs 12:10
I don't give a damn for a man who can only spell a word one way. Mark Twain
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RE:Any advice on starting out? 06 Oct 2004 11:40 #27

Hi Jason and Gary

Here is my advice for starting out. First off, I want to say the advice and dialoque that has taken place is great.

1. I believe the very first thing is to get familiar with horses, Anatomy and how they think and act.

2. Learn forging skills and how to work with metal, one of the best ways is to make hand made shoes.

Horsemen ship Skills (most important in my opinion) You can be the best smithy in world, but most Farriers get fired or worst yet injured because they lack good horsmenship skills. Today there is a tremendous amount of information available on how to be a good horse person. In my opinion Horsemen ship skills is the most important, without it, your unsafe and you and the horse are at a higher risk of injury or maybe death. 99% of the time when horses act up it is caused by people (the Farrier). The best way to learn the skills needed is to hang around good horse people and many horses. Clinics are good, riding lessons, cleaning stalls and grooming is a good way to learn about horses. Every horse is an individual and you need to know how to communicate with them and read them. It is almost impossible and very dangerous for a green person to work on or around horses especially holding there foot up while trimming them or nailing on a shoe. The more you understand horses the easier and safer it is.

It is difficult to teach someone how to be a Farrier. When I first started I had no idea of how difficult it would be just to use the tools and Trim a foot and shape shoes, I did a lot of smashing not shaping at first. Each part of the job needs to be taught and taught correctly and needs to be done in a manner that does not threaten or intimidate the student. So with that said, I believe it is important for a new Farrier to learn forging skills, it develops good basic techniques that helps you a lot. It is also very important to learn how to put your body and limbs in the correct positions. Because it helps you and the horse. Learning how to work at your Anvil making handmade shoes or just making a gait hook is a great way to learn how to shape shoes. By learning to do things right it will become enjoyable and when the Farrier feels good the horses behave better. So I cast my vote with the handmade shoe folks. This will also help you build your business, because you look competent and skilled. Horses and people look for signs of confidence and leadership.

I attended a clinic this weekend on Horse Training. At the Clinic a horse owner asked “what is the best type of bit to use?” The Clinician’s answer was that he preferred the least severe bit over a severe bit. However the least severe bit in the wrong hands can do more harm than a severe bit in skilled hands. "The most important thing is to learn the basics and develop skill".

Good luck, be safe and enjoy your journey
Phil Armitage, CF
AFA member 7480

"Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it." Albert Schweitzer
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