Friday, April 13, 2007

Farriery Facts and Figures from the UK

One of the hardships of being in the farrier industry in America is that none of us who market to farriers really know who we are marketing to or how many of "them" are out there. No one's counting. Oh, figures get tossed around, like a number attributed to Walt Taylor, who once said that there were about 30,000 farriers in the USA. As I recall, that was at least 20 years ago. Are there more now? Fewer? Are farriers older? younger? We have no idea.

Come to think of it, we don't even really know how many horses are out there, and how many receive regular hoofcare. You can pick a number and do your math.

How different things are in the UK, where the British Equestrian Trade Association just released their statistics on the horse industry. Or so I thought. They seem quite confident in their number of horses, which is 1.35 million. There are 2,473 registerered farriers.

Wait, that math won't fly. That's one farrier for every 546 horses. Shouldn't it be about half that? Or are all those slave-like apprentices really upping the number of horses a master farrier can do in a day? Do these guys ever stand up?

The number that I really like in this study is from the Worshipful Company of Farriers. They report that the farriers in the UK earn a total of $500 million, or roughly $200,000 per farrier. If you divide that by 546 horses, then you see that the average income per horse is about $900.

But when you do the math the other way--gross farrier income divided by total horse population, it comes out to only $360 per horse. That's a pretty big difference. I wonder how they came up with the gross income for the farrier trade.

Farrier statistics are an enigma the world over, I guess.