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Expert Farrier Meets Draft Horse Demand
Norman Yoder’s passion is breeding and showing Percheron horses but his work as a farrier replacing shoes on the hooves of draft horses brings in the bulk of his income.
Yoder makes regular trips to large cities in Colorado and California to shoe horses, working out of his truck for 6 mos. of the year. “The demand for shoeing is crazy, it just never lets up,” he says, explaining that the use of draft horses to pull carriages in large cities is fueling the demand. He says shoeing horses is really hard work, but it pays well and he’s good at it. “I’m 32 and the workout is like going to the gym every day for 8 hrs. I feel the strain, so I know I can’t shoe horses all my life. Plus, we just had a baby 6 mos. ago, so I’m passing some of my shoeing work on to a cousin and hope to cut back on the travel.”
Yoder tells customers to mark their calendars when he’s finished with a job because he’ll be back in 8 weeks. “I do the work, customers write me a check, and when the shoeing is done, I head back home.”
At his Iowa farm, Yoder spends many evenings training his horses and mules for showing. “I have a large indoor arena and I’m often training horses until 9, 10 or even 11 at night,” he says. Percherons are his preferred breed, though recently he’s found success producing “half-draft” horses. He calls them gentle giants. Yoder keeps about 20 mares to foal and generally has 40 to 50 yearlings in training.
“A lot of my half-draft customers are wealthy or retired folks who just want a gentle and sturdy horse so they can ‘love ‘em, rub ‘em and ride ‘em.’ Most of them seemed pleased with the horses they’ve gotten from our program.”
Asked what his secret is for training horses, Yoder says it’s important to figure out ways “to get inside a horse’s head. It’s like the challenge that parents face training a 2, 3 or 4-year-old child, finding ways to get them to behave and perform without them feeling like they’re being forced to do something. I’ve learned a lot of my training methods by trial and error and have been able to improve on them over time. I think of it as mastering the art of horse psychology.”
Yoder says one of the best ways to market a horse is through a YouTube video. “When a customer can watch the horse perform in a video, it’s easier for them to decide whether that horse will fit their needs,” he says. Yoder also relies on Troyer Auctions in Colorado to sell his horses.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Norman Yoder, 13455 710th Ave., Zearing, Iowa 50278.

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #2