Horse Care Tips

Tips for Finding a Fantastic Farrier

man trimming horse hoof
Written by Nicky H

A Good Farrier: Hard to Find?

Back in the 1908’s, Feargal Sharkey thought a good heart was hard to find, and others have written stories about how hard it is to find a good man/woman. As far as I’m concerned, both those challenges are a lot easier than finding a good farrier.

When I say a “good farrier,” I mean one that’s qualified, experienced, and passionate, so, yes, it is a pretty tall order.

A good farrier should treat each horse as a unique individual, adapting their hoof care and shoeing techniques to meet the singular needs of that specific horse. They should be able to communicate clearly with the owner and appreciate the diversity of hoof care requirements and how they fit in with the horse’s overall health and management regime.

woman trimming a horse hoof

Source: Canva

What is a Farrier?

A farrier is an equine hoof care specialist who’s capable of performing routine trims and treating and correcting hoof issues. They are skilled individuals who can craft their own shoes and fit them to any type of equine.

Farriers need a comprehensive understanding of horse health and anatomy to perform their jobs competently.

Farrier Training

You don’t actually need any qualifications or experience to advertise yourself as a farrier.

In the USA, there is no official certification or training required to become a farrier, even though there are hundreds of farrier schools and training courses available.

Despite that, I would strongly advise looking for a farrier who has completed some form of farrier education or training and who demonstrates a clear understanding of horse anatomy, gaits, conformation, mobility issues, and the types and sizes of American horseshoes and nails.

You can find some of the best farrier training courses on the American Farriers Association (AFA) website here.

horse shoe on hoof

Source: Canva

Farrier References

Most horse owners find their farriers through word-of-mouth recommendations, and knowing that your friend, instructor, or barn manager is happy with their work is as good a reference as most people need.

If you want to dig deeper, you could ask around the local barns and stable to find other people who use the same farrier and ask them about their experiences.

Farrier Certifications

As there is no mandatory professional certification for farriers, the closest thing you’ll find is a farrier who’s voluntarily completed either the AFA’s Certified Farrier (CF) or Certified Journeyman Farrier (CJF) criteria.

woman hammering horse shoe on anvil

Source: Canva

Farrier Experience

You can get a sense of how experienced your farrier is from their qualifications. To gain CF accreditation, they need to have been practicing for at least a year, while for CJF certification, it increases to two.

Hoofcare is extremely complex, however, and a more experienced farrier will have more knowledge and individual cases to reference when examining your horse.

If you’re at all concerned, ask your prospective farrier how long they’ve been practicing and, if you’re competing in a specific discipline, how much experience they have in trimming or shoeing for that particular specialty.

Finding a Farrier

First, Know Your Horse

You can’t find the perfect farrier unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, and that means getting to grips with your horse’s needs.

Trim or Shoe: If your horse is barefoot, you’ll need a farrier that specializes in barefoot trimming. If, on the other hand, your horse suffers from navicular, you’ll need a farrier who’s familiar with corrective shoeing techniques.

hot shoeing

Source: Canva

Hoof Condition: Are your horse’s hooves overly dry and cracking, or exposed to so much moisture that you’re constantly fighting bacterial and fungal infections? If that’s the case, you may need to find a farrier who’s willing to work with a veterinarian or nutritionist to solve the problem.

hoof dressing

Source: Canva

Intended Purpose: Consider what you want to use your horse for, and whether your chosen discipline has any specific shoeing or trimming requirements. If it does, look for a farrier who’s specialized in that field.

Conformation Faults or Structural Issues:As we mentioned earlier, conformational faults and other issues may need corrective shoeing, so you should look for farriers who specialize in therapeutic shoeing or who forge their own specialty shoes.

Where to Look

Word of Mouth

Horsey people seem only too willing to share their opinions, so why not use that verbosity to get the information you need? Ask other owners at your barn or people you compete against who they’d recommend and if the same name keeps cropping up, give them a call.

There are many local Facebook groups catering to horse owners; these can also be a great source of information and referrals.

Google Search & Reviews!

Google is a powerful search engine that can help you find a farrier and see what other people think of them. If you hear a name via word of mouth, use Google to check out their online reviews and reputation.

American Farrier Association

The AFA has an online resource to help you locate qualified farriers in your area.

hoof nippers

Source: Canva

Additional Suggestions

If your fellow horse owners can’t help you find a farrier, ask your veterinarian, equine nutritionist, physiotherapist, or other equine professional for their recommendations.

Communication is Key

A good farrier is one you can communicate with easily and who you find easy to understand. They should be able to explain their processes to you and communicate clearly about any hoof issues or problems they encounter.

Don’t Forget About Nutrition

The best farrier in the world can’t fix your horse’s feet if you’re not feeding him correctly. Your horse needs a balanced diet consisting of high-quality feeds and essential minerals to keep his hooves in tip-top condition.

A nutritionist can advise you on the best feeds and supplements for healthy hooves, but making sure your horse gets enough calcium, phosphorus, and biotin is a great place to start.

How to Be a Good Customer for Your Farrier

  1. Have horses ready to go when they arrive
  2. Provide a safe, level place to work out of the elements
  3. Train your horse in advance to have good manners for the farrier
  4. Pay your bill (on time!)
  5. Consider tipping for their service
  6. Offer a refreshment on arrival and provide plenty of hydration on hotter days
  7. Listen to advice and apply it where appropriate
horse sniffing farrier

Source: Canva

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do you know if a farrier is good?

A good farrier will spend the first part of the initial consultation evaluating your horse’s conformation and movement.

Any farrier that starts pulling shoes or trimming without first watching your horse move should be avoided. Once the farrier’s completed the trimming or shoeing process, your horse should move soundly and comfortably—if he doesn’t, there could be a problem associated with the procedure.

Q: How much does a farrier cost on average?

According to a survey conducted by the American Farriers Journal in October last year, the average cost of a basic trim is around $60 to $160, depending on the condition of the hooves and the horse’s training.

A young horse with minimal training will cost more to trim than one that stands as still as a rock!

For a horse that needs two new front shoes as well as a trim, a farrier will charge around $130 to $160, while a full set of shoes may cost as much as $400 to $500. Specialty shoes and pads inevitably cost a bit more, with a full set of heart-bar shoes costing around $750.

Q: What questions should I ask a farrier?

Before letting a farrier loose on your horse’s feet, make sure you’re confident they’re the right person for the job. Ask them what certifications they have, how long they’ve been practicing, and what specialties they might have. If it doesn’t feel like a good fit—it probably isn’t!

Q: Is it normal to tip a farrier?

Some people tip their farrier an extra $5 for gas every time they visit, while others only tip during the holidays or when their horse acts up during the shoeing process.

According to a survey conducted by The Horse in 2014, around 75% of respondents said they didn’t tip their farrier at all and only 13% said they did it regularly.

hoof rasp

Source: Canva

Parting Thoughts

If you’ve got a farrier you’re happy with, stick with them through thick and thin—they’re worth their weight in gold!

Good farriers aren’t particularly easy to find and the farrier who shoes your friend’s show horse perfectly may simply not be a match for your endurance Arab.

Hopefully, the information in this article will help you find the perfect farrier for your horse and form a strong enough professional relationship with them that he’ll be comfortably trimmed and shod for years to come.

P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:


Selecting a Farrier for Your Horse

Picking the Perfect Farrier – How to Find & Choose a Farrier

Poll Recap: Tipping Farriers – The Horse

What Would You Charge?

Find a Farrier

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About the author


Nicky H

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