“Ever since I was a little shaver, I have loved horses and ponies and dreamed of doing this work.” That’s how Marlin describes how he found his career as an Amish farrier. He is a specialist in the treatment of equine foot care, trimming and re-shoeing their hooves. He is half blacksmith and half veterinarian, and he loves his work.
Marlin grew up on a farm in southern Michigan and always enjoyed spending time with his father’s horses, which are an important part of Amish life. A variety of horse breeds are used to pull Amish buggies including Morgans, Standardbreds, and Dutch Harness. Large draft horses such as Belgians or Clydesdales are used for the hard, heavy work around a farm including plowing and hauling, since the Amish choose not to use tractors, bulldozers or wheel loaders.
When Marlin got his first driving horse his dad taught him to shoe is own horse and he was hooked. He found himself constantly searching for ways to spend more time working with horses. After he was married, he looked for side jobs working as a farrier, but he didn’t have enough clientele built up yet to support his young family.
Like many Amish men in his area, he turned to the manufactured housing and RV factories for work. While he was thankful for the employment, he found factory life stressful and unsatisfying. “I was always glad for the work, glad for the regular paycheck, but the hectic pace was hard.” He fell into a rhythm of drudgery telling himself, “It’s a job, I got to work, do the best I can, and go home.”
During the 16 years he worked for others he continued to build up his farrier clientele by working very early mornings, late evenings, and Saturdays until in 2010 he was finally able to leave the factory behind and make a decent living as a farrier. He has been married now for ten years and has three kids so far, a son and two daughters. He is very thankful to work out of his home now which allows him more time with his family and more flexible working hours. And he is happy as can be when his son asks to help with the shoeing.