Recently, I have been researching a career as a farrier (a person that trims and shoes horses). After meeting Jen Scwartz, the first female farrier that I had ever met, my brain started churning with the possibility. I vaguely remember thinking about this as a possible career option when I was 17 years old, but back then I figured I was going to own a ranch in Montana and would be training horses for a living. I think the thought came and went and that was it. But lately I have really been entertaining the idea.
I like work that is physically demanding, requires problem solving skills, and allows me to be outside. A bonus would be that I could spend time with horses on a daily basis. And another benefit would be that I would actually make money at it. I could have a decent income doing what I enjoy doing.
I have contacted a few farriers, Jen included, along with a couple of retired farriers–one who was on the American Farrier Association Board of Directors, and the other who started Vermont Farrier Association. Another farrier, Chad Blasch, has offered to let me join him for a few days on the job. Jen has offered this as well. Advice for schools has varied, but the top three choices in my mind are Cornell, Mission Farrier School, ELPO, and many more. The first two schools are more of a traditional education, while the last two focus on natural balance techniques. Cost of 8-16 week schooling ranges from $6000-$8000, with Cornell as the only school who may be eligible for student loans. Other expenses to factor in are time spent at school (no wages for two or more months); cost of tools (about $2000); start up cost; and airfare if I chose a school further away.
My research has included contacting as many people as possible for advice on the best choice of school. I’m trying to find out the main differences between schools and how learning from a traditional school is different from a solely focused natural balance school. The differences may be self-evident, but I want to ask to be sure. I like to look at things from all angles before making a choice that feels right. I am also keeping in mind the way that people interact with the horse. I do not want to spend time at a school where the horse’s well-being is secondary to getting the job done. I want the horse to come first no matter what.
In the meantime, Stephanie has offered to let me help her trim her horses, with her guidance. My first attempt was on Mas’s front feet, and I must say, with her guidance they turned out pretty good! I’m excited to do more trimming in the near future. Along with trimming, I am taking lessons with Stephanie to become much better at the Seven Games, and eventually, at riding. My main goal is to learn to communicate with the horse and to understand their behavior and to know what to do and when to do it. A tall order, but one that I am continually working on!