There are different reasons why you can become a farrier. Some of them are special, such as the choice of Christoph Müller.
In 2004, this young German Agricultural Engineer decided to go to a farrier school. He had just started a job at Cera, a company that had developed a plastic horseshoe. Müller wanted to deepen his knowledge about the industry, to understand better what farriers are facing every day. The goal was to give better seminars and advice. That plan became a success and Christoph was infected by the farrier-virus. After his state exam, he graduated in his Master exam and also became a certified cow hoof trimmer. From that moment on, Müller now trims and shoes horses every week, for practice and for the fun of it. After his employment at Cera, Christoph changed jobs, first to Vettec and later to Mustad. As a sales manager, he is responsible for Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia . Thanks to his thorough knowledge of the market, he is sometimes involved in the development of new products. But still, next to his demanding job, Müller keeps time aside to practice as a farrier.
One type of shoe, three different nail sizes. That was all!
In comparison with the beginning of his career, Christoph has noticed some immense changes in the industry.
First of all, the quality and the number of products available for farriers and hoof care has increased enormously. When he went to school, there was only one type of shoe and there were only 3 nail sizes in daily use. Nowadays, the product range used at state schools is large, it has become more a reflection of what happens in the market.
Secondly, it has become more easy for farriers to order their goods on a short term. 15 years ago, most farriers ordered two times a year. Now, it has become more and more practice to order on a weekly – sometimes daily – base.
These changes have mainly been caused by the internet. Information is shared faster, farriers are better informed and ordering and receiving goods has become easier. But still, he notices that all new products, in particular horseshoe types, need some time to earn their place in the market. After all, farriery is still a craft and new products are only widely used if they benefit the farrier’s job and when they have got used to them.
You can never make a bad job better by doing it in a shorter time
What he would like to change in the industry is the way that many serious, professional farriers look at themselves. He wonders why some of them think that they need to shoe or trim more horses at a low price, instead of giving horses a better treatment and doing a better, more time-consuming job at a higher rate. If the client feels that his horse is properly taken care of, treated with respect and the job is good, they are willing to pay for that service. After all, the farrier’s job is not only shoeing or trimming, it is about inspecting the horse on a regular basis and keeping an eye on its shape. Why should that be a less valued profession? He states that you can do a good job faster, but you can never make a bad job better by doing it in a shorter time. So a good, more slow job, at a higher rate, is the only solution to improve a farrier’s business health in the longer term.
As a farrier, Christoph specializes in orthopaedic shoeing, in particular the treatment of laminitis. This is where his great knowledge of available materials is reflected best.
His main advice for farriers shoeing for laminitis are:
- be well prepared, inform yourself about the best materials, new products and trends
- take care to achieve a smooth breakover
- combine the materials in such a way that they support well, but don’t push the apex of the frog. This can be achieved by combining two materials: a hard material in front, a soft material in the back of the hoof, for example pads, and a combination of two pad materials
- as with all orthopaedic shoeing, never make the diagnosis yourself, always cooperate with a veterinarian
I want to help other farriers to make their jobs easier and more safe
What Müller likes most about his present job is giving clinics and advice to farriers. In some sense, he is an idealist: he intends to help other farriers to make their jobs easier and more safe by giving them information about products that can help them to achieve this. But he doesn’t only give information about new products, he is also involved in their development. This is where the engineer pops up! The VF-Pro nail and the DynaMic shoes were partially from his hand and he is now involved in a new project of which he expects a lot. Christoph is thrilled about this part of his job and he hopes to intensify this in the future.