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Consider A Shoeing Body As A Long-Term Investment

Reprinted with permission from the American Farriers Journal. Original article can be found here:

WHILE MANY SHOEING RIGS appear very fancy and look like they carry a hefty price tag, using one can certainly do a great deal for your business. Besides boosting your shoeing efficiencies by saving valuable time and storing tools and supplies in a convenient location, one of these rigs can also boost your professional image. Representing an investment of around $13,000 the shoeing rig shown here has a life span of at least 15 years, maintains Brent Chidsey of Stone Well Bodies & Equipment in Genoa, N.Y. "The typical farrier will move a shoeing body to a different truck every 4 or 5 years," he says. "If you used the same shoeing body for 15 years, it would typically be used on three trucks. In addition, the federal government allows you to depreciate a shoeing body over 5 years for tax purposes, which means they’ll help pay for much of the cost of a new body and help you trim your annual costs." The owner of this rig, Lee Liles, has been shoeing for 35 years. While his family concentrates on breeding and showing Quarter Horses at Carousel Farms in Sulphur, Okla., he still shoes some horses and runs the National Museum Of Horseshoeing Tools & Hall Of Honor.


Fold-back doors located on both sides of this Stone Well body make it much easier and safer to shoe in narrow barn alleyways.

"When you analyze the investment in one of these shoeing bodies, it only costs you about $1,200 a year and that’s a pretty reasonable investment," says Liles. "For $100 per month, you’ll get a time-saving, highly efficient and convenient rig that can be depreciated, yet still has some resale value when you’re done with it." While most people that buy these rigs don’t end up shoeing more horses, the increased efficiency and time savings would allow you to shoe a couple more horses per month that would result in enough dollars to pay for a rig like this one. Instead, most buyers say these rigs give them more time for themselves and their family while going home less tired and feeling better at the end of the day.


By locating a drill press, belt sander, band saw, vise, welder and other items all in one area, you can improve your shoeing efficiency. Note the convenient pull-out vise at right.

Major Rig Benefits

When designing this shoeing rig with Chidsey, Liles wanted a unit where tools and supplies are easy to reach and a unit designed to make a shoer much more efficient. Here’s what he sees as major benefits for this rig.

Liles likes the split doors that fold back to narrow the width of the rig when shoeing.

"With these doors, you can more effectively utilize your shoeing space in a narrow barn alleyway and shoe under safer conditions," says Liles. "With the older doors that increased the working width of the rig, owners and trainers were scared that a young colt might become spooked by the truck and run into the shoeing body door possibly injuring both horse and rider. "The split door is a great safety benefit when you’re working in a barn alley where horses are being moved past your shoeing rig."


Essential business items are displayed where clients can easily see them so there are no questions about payment or shoeing work.

As farriers become older, Liles says a swing-out anvil and forge become major benefits. "This protects your back and means you don’t have to lift these items in and out of your truck at every stop," he says. "You can also get set up and started shoeing much faster with this equipment." Chidsey says using a swing-out anvil lets a shoer use a heavier anvil, which makes it easier to work steel shoes. Yet one disadvantage of a swing-out anvil is that it will be positioned at the same angle as your truck. "You’ve got to have your truck level to keep your anvil level and if you shoe in a hilly area, keeping the truck level may be a serious problem," he says. "Consider this before you add a swing-out anvil."


A swing-out anvil and forge enable farriers to set up fast for shoeing work while avoiding lifting heavy equipment. Plenty of drawers and compartments make it extremely easy to find needed tools and supplies.

Liles added air bags (sometimes called air springs) to provide a smoother ride. "These bags stabilize the truck, keep the body level and provide extra clearance between the body and tires with a heavy load," he says. "When I’m pulling a three-horse trailer, I increase the air pressure in the bags from 25 to 70 pounds to keep the shoeing body from bottoming out on the wheels," he says. "This lets me get by with single wheels rather than dual wheels, which qualifies as a commercial vehicle in many states." Chidsey says the Firestone air bags are an alternative to placing extra leaf springs in the truck’s suspension system. They can be easily removed and installed on your next truck. "Very similar to air shocks, these bags can be adjusted for air pressure up to 100 pounds per square inch," he says. "They’re designed much like the air bags that people install on semi-trailers to provide good suspension."

Liles stores a stall jack, shoeing box and apron in a side compartment that’s also used to store keg shoes. "When you have only one horse to shoe at a barn or show, it’s convenient to open this compartment and get out every-thing that’s needed," he says. "You can get a lot done with just a stall jack and a couple of keg shoes when you only have one horse to do.

"When I pull a trailer of horses to a show or a roping contest, I don’t have to unhook the trailer and raise the back door to get out my shoeing box when someone’s horse has lost a shoe. This can be a serious problem when trailering horses with a shoeing rig."

"I like keeping all of my shoeing items in a specific place where they’re always easy to find and reach," Liles says. "For example, let’s take making a pad for a shoe on gaited horses," he says.

"Everything that’s needed to do this work is located along the driver’s side of this rig. "I can assemble a pad and shoe without walking back and forth around the truck. It’s easy to rivet a pad, cut the pad with the band saw, use the belt sander to clean it up and drill holes through both the pad and shoe with the drill press. "Without taking more than a couple of steps, I can easily do all of this work, which leads to much more shoeing efficiency."

Liles says accessibility to tools and supplies is still another major benefit with this rig. "You don’t have to pull out tools and supplies to reach some-thing else," he says. "It’s much easier to inventory supplies. Everything is kept in the same place all the time, which makes it much easier to do your shoeing work."


A front compartment stores a stall jack, shoeing box, apron and keg shoes.This makes it easy to get out equipment needed to shoe only one horse without opening all of the rig doors or unhitching a horse trailer. A large removable plastic box contains maintenance tools for use away from the shoeing rig.

Being able to adapt the rig for special tools is still another benefit.A good example is the Milwaukee portable band saw. This is a $300 unit that’s frequently used by plumbers and framing crews on a construction site. By adding a bracket and plate to anchor the bandsaw, it’s been turned into a low-cost stationary unit.

Liles mounted the shoeing body on a four-door Ford 350 1-ton truck. "I like a four-door truck because the backseat can end up being your shoeing business office," he says. "Since a horseshoer spends so much time in his or her truck, this extra space can prove to be very valuable."

The extra passenger doors come in handy when traveling with apprentices or if you want to take another farrier, a vet or client to lunch. It's also a handy place to store jackets, boots, hats, clean t-shirts and sweatshirts.

9There’s a special compartment for hanging clothes in the front of the rig on the driver’s side. Whether it’s just a couple of shirts to use in hot shoeing weather or a place to store clothes for an overnight trip, Chidsey says 25 percent of farriers who order a Stone Well shoeing body ask for clothes storage.

Both Liles and Chidsey agree that the key to designing a shoeing body is to avoid wasted space, providing plenty of storage and coming up with the personalized arrangement of tools, equipment and supplies that works best for you and leads to increased shoeing efficiencies. By meeting these basic requirements, you can shoe out of a rig that can readily pay for itself in the months and years to come.

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