The True Cost of Shoeing
a Horse © Ray Miller
When you search for a farrier, one of the first
things that you 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, do they belong to any
farriers' organizations, do they have an education (farrier
school, college degrees, etc.), and how long has the person
been shoeing? A full time farrier may see as many as 11,000
hoofs a year while a part time shoer maybe 500. There can
be a big gap in the knowledge of a full time professional
and the person down the road who has another job, or the
person who went to a two-week course or self study.
We are just now being able to prove that improper trimming
and shoeing as a colt, or continued improper shoeing and
trimming will lead to lameness earlier in a horse life. The
theories in shoeing are changing as we can prove with science
study and our new technologies what is going on with the
horse in biomechanical movements.
There can be a big gap in price and cost of doing business
in shoeing and trimming, between the part timer and just
starting out Farrier and the full time Professional Farrier.
A lot of part-timers don't carry the equipment or have the
shop, don't but and carry any type of insurance.
WHO PAYS THE BILLS IF YOUR HORSE INJURES THEM?
You may want to check with your attorney or your state workers
compensation board. They don't maintain a truck or van just
for shoeing, (they use the truck or car to drive to work).
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 any other
source of income, full or part time job, inheritance, not
living at home with parents, spousal support, etc.
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 and a Master Farrier with continuing education
$40,000.00 a year. Add a college degree of four-year BS/Equine
Science and add $5000.00 a year to base salary; a six-year
degree M/S Equine Science and add $8000.00 per year. If the
person has teaching credentials and further education you
could add as much as $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. So the range of salary for a full time farrier
can range from $24,000.00 per year to a high of $49,000.00
per year gross income.
Let us say our farrier is a Journeyman with a four-year college
degree. His salary should be at $41,000.00 per year, divided
by twelve months = $3416.00 per month, divided by 4.33 weeks
in a month = $788.91 per week. Say he is a suburban shoer,
working an 8-hour day. His day rate is then $157.78 a day;
averaging five horses per day = $31.55 per horse in just
labor. But he wants that income for a year. So you need to
add the cost of eight traditional holidays (Christmas, New
Year, Easter, Labor Day, etc.). Then add a couple of paid
sick days per years of service, lets say five days, and a
couple of personnel days. So now, instead of 359.8 days a
year, he is working 234.80 days at $170.00 per day, divided
by five horses = $34.00 per horse. The cost of labor for
trims would be $14.16 per horse at 12 a day.
Retirement needs to be planned 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, usually, places matching funds. These
funds must be figured into the cost of the business of shoeing
a horse. The amount came to $4099.20 per year, divided by
the number of shoeings of 1,174 = $3.49 per shoeing. Trimming
2,817.60 horses it would increase the cost of trims at $1.27.
The costs for just the farriers labor of shoeing is $37.49
per horse. If he is trimming the cost for trimming would
Now start the BUSINESS EXPENSE. What expenses, you say! First
is the transportation to your location. A van or shoeing
truck, new, costs $25,000.00. Driving 200 miles per day =
46,960 miles per year. If it lasts about three years = $8,333.33
per year in replacement cost of gas, tires, maintenance,
etc. 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 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 companies, plumbers,
office machine repair and veterinarians etc. The farrier
is the only one who finds it hard to convince an owner that
it costs money to come to their place to shoe or trim a horse.
Would you the owner, be willing to take the time to catch,
load, hook on to your trailer, drive to the farrier? You
could add as much as a day 1/2 day of your labor to the labor
of your farrier. Is your time worth anything?
Continuing education, this person will 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 cost of being away from the business, for a total of
10 days throughout the year, $65,000.00 = $5.53 per horse.
INSURANCE??? Remember a full time professional will carry
insurance: Health Insurance at $3,000.00 per year, Care,
Custody & Control, $12,000.00, ($100,000.00 per horse)
Liability, $25,000.00 per year, ($300,000.00 policy), Truck,
$3000.00 per year, Comprehensive on equipment, $1500 per
year, Workman's Compensation, $1200 = $10.56 per horse.
EMPLOYEES, to do what? Many, many things: scheduling, bookkeeping,
answer the phone, designing and sending newsletters, working
in the field with horses, ordering shoes and supplies, answering
mail, working with owners understanding 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 work, he will do it himself or hire someone
outside the business, such as a C.P.A. (my C.P.A. charges
$120.00 per hour, my attorney charges $195.00 per hour) or
H & R Block, temporary office help, etc. Remember, time
is money; whether under a horse or in an office, he or she
is still working, because of your horse. A lot of farriers
forget to figure this part of the business as labor.
OFFICE EXPENSES, in home of $2600.00, phone (incoming and
outgoing lines, 800 number) = $6,000.00 per year. Replacement
of office equipment (ink cartridges, paper, computer parts,
etc.), and repair $1500 per year = $8.60 per horse.
ADVERTISING & MARKETING, $5,000 per year, (business cards,
newspaper ads, flyers, postage, reminder cards, horse flairs,
etc.) per year = $4.25 per horse.
REPLACING LOST, DAMAGED AND USED EQUIPMENT, (forge, gas tanks,
hand tools, apron, rasp, shoeing knife, etc.), $200 per month
= $2.74 per horse. How many times has your shoer dropped
or left something behind?
TRADE PUBLICATIONS, subscriptions (Wisconsin Horseman, Farrier
Journal, Hoof & Lameness, Michael Plumb's Horse Journal,
Equus, Western Horsemen etc.) $300 per year = .25 per horse.
MEMBERSHIP in trade association, WBFA, AFA, $300 per year
= .25 per horse.
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 person can usually trim three
horses at 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 of making a profit. Paying a salary
to owner and any employees is not making a profit for the
business. Any business owner wants to make a profit on the
money they have out 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.
THE LAST ITEM TO ADD IS SALES TAX, yes some states such as
Wisconsin charges sales tax. Often it adds another five percent
to 6 percent to the cost of shoeing. Depending in what county
you live in. In this case we will use the five and one-half
percent or $7.94 to the cost of shoeing. Making it $152.44
per horse. Trims, again using the five and one-half percent
making it $2.25 to the cost of trimming total $47.88 to trim.
One thing you will need to remember, other items do run the
cost of shoeing and trimming up. If you are the one, two,
three horse owners, or out in the country and you cannot
put a group of horses together for the farrier to spend the
day, travel expenses increase. If you are a long way out,
he has a lot of travel time and possible overnight expense.
Or if your horse has a problem about standing quietly for
the farrier and it takes longer to shoe or trim, he 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 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 further education does the person
have? Does he do a lot of therapuetic work? Is he in demand?
Is he working after hours or on weekends and holidays? The
question I ask is do you, the horse owner, receive overtime,
night bonus, holiday pay? 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. Horse shoeing is not a hobby for them, it is
a full-time profession. They really care about your horse
and what is best for that horse. A lot of full time farriers
will work a double shift because they cannot expect to receive
the true cost of shoeing or trimming your horse. Now other
things can bring the cost down. For example, is he 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, it is the family van or truck,
instead of company equipment? Is he young and living at home
with parents? Is he only staying within a few miles of the
home? Do you bring the horse to them? Does he only do one
or two horses a week for extra money, by that keeping the
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 the farrier. And he will definitely
have a better understanding of the equine.
Now you know why a lot of farriers and horse shoers go and
come; very few can afford to stay in the business. The full-timer
soon learns that he 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. Plus have evenings, holidays and weekends
Never getting kicked, bitten of pawed are added benefits.
Your full-time professional farrier also becomes an extra
set of eyes. He will look at your horse in an independent
objective way, giving you insight as to what is happening
with the entire animal. He may spot problems that you have
not seen. By seeing the horse regularly, he may identify
changes taking place that you should contact a veterinarian
about. As a owner, this input is invaluable.
So the next time you shop for a shoer because yours is no
longer in business, think about why. He has probably gotten
tired from working double shifts or found a better job. Those
that stay in are usually there for the love of the horse.
Ray K. Miller, Jr.: 40 years full-time professional
within the horse and cattle industry. Master Farrier/Plater,
Race Track License AZ, U.S. Dept. of Interior, U.S. Department
of Agriculture, ratings of Master Farrier, Senior Packer/Wrangler,
Senior Horse Specialist, Senior Wild Horse Specialist.
Colorado State Board of Colleges: Teaching Credentials
for Farrier Science, Equine Management, Equine Science,
Secondary, Post Secondary and Adult Education. U.S. Forest
Service Permitted Outfitter, License Outfitter Guide
Wisconsin. Former Licensed Outfitter and Guide, AZ, CO,
MT Lic. Member, American Farriers Assoc., Working Brotherhood
Farriers. Certified Expert Witness in Federal and State
Court System for Equine and Equine Related Legal Matters
-- Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Texas, New York.
Former Superintendent at the American Royal, Livestock,
ASHA Horse Show and PRCA Rodeo 16 yrs. Former VP Equine
Services at Resort Development International 3 yrs.,
General Manager/Senior Wrangler/Packer Rocky Mountain
Outfitters, Glacier National Park 10 yrs. Former owner
of Spring Creek Ranches and Ute Peak Horse Center, Colorado,
Former Director of C & R Packing, Guiding and Outfitting
School, 8 yrs. Owner of commercial riding, outfitting and
packing stables and ranches in Arizona and Colorado.
appreciate Jonathan Weiler for introducing me to Ray Miller's
To learn more about Farrier Industry-related
Problems, read: http://www.wiwfarm.com/FarrierIndustry.htm