If you're a farrier, your truck is your office. It therefore needs to look professional and be well organized for maximum efficiency. The more horses you can trim and shoe in a day, the more money you can make, and having your rig laid out carefully can mean less fatigue at the end of the day. Here are some tips for helping set up your first custom rig.
While some farriers like using a trailer, many more find that adding a custom shoeing body to the back of a pickup truck is easier and uses less gas. A good shoeing body is much like a movable food cart; aluminum frame sides lift up and the rear hatch opens for an instant work station.
If you design your side panels to open upward (versus outward, like the doors of a car), horses and people can pass underneath. This also reduces the risk of a loose horse running into an open panel.
Shoeing Body Organization
Every farrier likes their rig laid out differently. Walk through a typical day in your mind to help you decide where you want your tools and equipment to go. You'll probably want certain tools, such as your drill press, belt sander, vise, etc., all in one area. Your hoof stand should be easy to grab right away.
Drawers and compartments will keep small parts like clinches and caulks organized. Calculate the number of shoe racks you'll need by the number of shoe sizes you typically carry. A tool rack will keep small hand tools within arm's reach.
A propane-powered forge is a must if you do hot shoeing. A swing-out anvil will reduce back strain and risk of accidents, and it will allow you to use a heavier anvil, making it easier to work on steel shoes. The only caution is that your truck must be parked on level ground for the anvil to function properly.
Once you have the basics in place, you can add extras, some based on your own personal practice:
- extra propane tanks (secured)
- an inverter to provide electrical outlets for power tools
- fire extinguisher
- x-ray viewer
- clothing storage
Many experienced farriers find that having a side compartment with a tool box, apron, stall jack, and keg shoes makes working shows easier and allows for a quick stop to shoe a horse in the pasture.
Don't forget to think about signage. You want everyone at the barn to know you're there doing business, so have your name on your truck, as well as on a portable sign you can set up at the barn entrance. Post any certifications or information about rates and policies in a prominent place for customers to see.
Check with your accountant about depreciating the shoeing body over time for tax purposes. Once you average the cost of the rig over the years it's used, it usually turns out to be a very worthwhile investment.
Farriery can be a very lucrative and rewarding profession. If your custom rig is laid out right, it makes it easy to be the versatile professional--from equine pedicurist to to blacksmith to horse whisperer--that you are.
For more information about custom truck parts, contact Pacesetter Truck Caps & Accessories Inc. or a similar company.