For hundreds of years, books on horseshoeing have followed a very similar format. The books have focused exclusively on the mechanical aspect of shoeing. Some reflect the author’s passion for the forge while others focus on shoeing to overcome numerous gait and lameness issues.

Many Skills 
Needed For Success

However, most professional farriers understand shoeing the horse is only one of the many required skills that must be mastered to operate a successful farrier practice. As the owner and operator of a small business, you must develop accounting, business, people and many other skills.

Arguably the most prolific author today of educational material on the subject of the many aspects of horseshoeing is Dr. Doug Butler, CJF, FWCF. In Principles of Horseshoeing III, we were introduced to Butler’s son, Jacob Butler, CJF. And in Essential Principles of Horseshoeing, we are introduced to another of Butler’s sons, Peter Butler, CJF.

Doug Butler has written about some of the non-mechanical skills that are necessary to be a successful farrier business owner in “Shoeing in Your Right Mind” and “Six-Figure Shoeing.” In Butler’s newest book, “Essential Principles of Horseshoeing,” he intertwines both the mechanical and non-mechanical skills that must be developed if you are to become the dominant farrier in your area.

In the 294-page book, Butler breaks down the farrier profession into 10 chapters. Each chapter discusses in detail the specific skill set that must be developed in order to become successful. In addition, audio tapes of the text and scanable QR codes allow the reader to review many video demonstrations of various farrier skills are available.

Critical Knowledge Needed

For instance, Chapter Two, Perceptions and Realities, offers the reader a potpourri of insights into the profession of shoeing, not only from the farrier perspective, but from the horse owner’s view as well. Reading the section in this chapter on how horse owners select a farrier should make you pause for a little re-evaluation and self-assessment of your own situation.

Farriers understand that horseshoeing is a very physical profession. But the requirement for health skills is rarely, if ever, discussed in a horseshoeing text. A common sense precaution such as wearing safety glasses and protective clothing is covered in this chapter, but the most important aspects of being self-employed are covered in the section on life balance.

The blending of family and work is a huge problem for many farriers. The Butlers offer great insights into making decisions that can lead to a happier and healthier life for the farrier and his/her family.

Controlling Horses

For many owners, horses are becoming more of a companion animal than livestock. You recognize that the horsemanship skills of the horse owner are diminishing when they develop an attitude that horses can be treated as just big dogs.

This shift of attitude and skills on the horse owner’s part increases the need for a farrier to develop professional horse handling skills. If you can’t safely control a horse, you can’t make a living as a farrier.

These horse owners are increasingly turning to the farrier as a resource for answering most animal husbandry questions. The Horsemanship Skill chapter is full of useful information that can help a farrier answer those off-topic questions that horse owners tend to throw at them.

Another feature of the book are two chapters dealing with People Skills and Business Skills. The authors integrate the horse owner’s lack of horsemanship skills with the challenges the farrier faces in dealing with amateur owners and their horses.

An owner’s lack of horsemanship skills and shoeing knowledge means they often select a farrier based upon things such as appearance, price and personality. The Butler team’s ability to take the complex issues and break them down into small, understandable parts really shines in the People Skills chapter.

Sections in the People Skills and Business Skills chapters include such topics as telephone etiquette, advertising, accounting, pricing and vet/farrier relationships — to name just a few.

As one would expect, the chapter on Anatomy Skill is excellent. The theme of this section is, “We must know the normal anatomy to understand the abnormal.”

Lots of color diagrams and photographs are included that enhance the explanations of the structures of the lower limb and foot and give the reader a clear picture of normal equine anatomy.

The Butler team relies on lots of photographs and illustrations to present a no-nonsense approach to the age-old controversy of balance. Once you study the chapter on foot skills, you’ll have a clear understanding of balance, how to recognize balance and how to achieve balance in your hoof-care practice.

The chapters on Foot Skills and Forging Skills are loaded with color photographs and diagrams that make it easy for you to follow and perform the described tasks. Both the foot and forging chapters reflect Butler’s passion for detail with numerous explanations and processes for both

Essential Principles of Horseshoeing is a recipe for success. Every farrier — from the beginner to the experienced — can benefit from reading and adhering to the principles laid down by Doug, Jacob and Peter Butler.

Essential Principles Of Horseshoeing retails for $97 per copy and a set of corresponding audio CDs can also be ordered from Doug Butler Enterprises by calling (800) 728-3826 or visiting