Breaking into the farrier business: Tough but fun

Farm Forum

WATSON, Minn. (AP) – Looking for a job where you can’t be replaced by a computer or a machine? Matthew Pederson has found it, and he’s working to make it his full-time business.

A farrier, Pederson says the business is the perfect fit for him, although he would never have guessed it.

“I’m shocked at how everything has come together so nicely,” Pederson said as he trimmed the hooves of his fiancŽe’s horse, Little Buddy.

Pederson hung his shingle as the Minnesota River Area Farrier a little more than a year ago, the West Central Tribune of Willmar reported .

He has already built up a client list of more than 100.

He works full time at a Montevideo, Minn., lumber yard, but devotes his evenings and weekends to farriering. He travels an hour or more in any direction from his farm place north of Watson to trim hooves and shoe horses.

“There’s definitely room for me out there,” said Pederson of how the business is growing.

He’s working to make this his full-time occupation.

Other farriers in the area have welcomed him into the ranks and supported him, Pederson said. There’s a need to attract new farriers into the ranks, says Pederson, who at 37 is younger than most of the farriers he knows in the region.

A Worthington native, Pederson has also served for more than 21 years with the Minnesota National Guard’s 125th Field Artillery in Pipestone. His service has included three overseas deployments.

He had little experience with horses until he met Holly Geyer, his fiancŽe, a few years ago. Holly and her family are avid horse people, and introduced Pederson to the world of horses. A visit to the Minnesota WorkForce Center put him on the right trail.

The WorkForce Center encouraged Pederson to look for a niche where his talents worked best in an agricultural region. Testing showed he had the aptitude and talents needed to be a farrier.

It’s a demanding profession, where a fine eye for detail and craftsmanship, skills with tools and metal working, physical strength, and the right demeanor for handling animals all must be possessed.

“It’s shocking how physical the work is,” Pederson said.

He learned his skills by completing a 10-week program at the Minnesota School of Horseshoeing in Ramsey. As a military veteran, he was assisted with the costs of schooling and starting his business.

Like any business, this one has ample start-up costs. A farrier needs a wide range of tools, from files and sharp trimming blades to the portable forge to fire up the shoes. It’s important to have quality gear, and it’s often pricey, according to Pederson.

He makes his barn calls in a pickup truck packed with the gear. He arrives with plenty of horse sense too. Nothing is more important than handling the animal properly, Pederson said. “If it’s not cooperative, it turns into a rodeo,” he laughed.

He’s had very few. Horses are very intelligent animals, and he’s found the majority are trained and well cared for.

And that speaks to the other unexpected benefit he’s found in his business venture: Pederson said that he’s discovered that the horse owners in the region are among the nicest people he’s ever met.