Bryan attributes his success to certification through the American Farriers Association. He also believes strongly in continuing education. "A mechanic cannot repair a car without knowing how the internal parts work," he says. "Nor can a hoof-care provider treat, trim and balance a hoof without knowing the mechanics and all the internal structures that make up the equine foot."
There are many aspects of the engineering profession that Bryan uses in his practice. "The lower limb of a horse has very little to no muscle in it so all the tendons and ligaments work together acting as a system of levers and pulleys which I totally understand and am able to apply mechanical engineering principals to."
Bryan says it is it truly is buyer beware in the hoof-care industry when choosing a hoof care provider. Neither education, certification or licensure is required to be hoof care provider in the U.S. "Being certified and continuing education is a way to separate myself from other hoof care providers in my area."
Bryan's competitive advantage is his ability to perform barefoot trims or traditional shoeing. "While not every horse needs to be shod, every athlete needs a good pair of shoes, and the type of shoes they wear depends on the type of sport they play. Golfers, basketball players, bowlers all wear specialized shoes for the sport. The same principals apply to horses. The type of shoe or boot a horse needs is dependent on the activity in which it will be involved."
Bryan references active participation on social networking sites such as Facebook as his most successful marketing strategy. He posts before and after photos of his work for existing and potential customers to see. He also keeps customers updated on his continuing education and certifications. "Even before a new customer calls they can look on my Facebook page and see all the customer comments and look at photographs of my work. Being able to perform barefoot trims and traditional shoes, I am able to do what is best for the horse and the customer." Becoming an EasyCare dealer has also allowed him to separate himself from other hoof-care providers in his area.
He feels that hoof boots are becoming the next big thing since steel shoes. With better designs, and materials, he thinks the peak of the hoof boot industry is still to come. As a traditional farrier, he saw the opportunity to diversify and offer more choices for his customers. "With the economy that we are in, people are stretching and saving every dollar they can. Boots offer a cost effective alternative to shoeing their horses every six weeks. I see more and more horses in hoof boots all the time while trail riding. My basic philosophy is that if a horse can be pasture sound barefoot than boots are the way to go." The success of the barefoot industry, he says, is directly related to the success of hoof boots. "While most horses can be pasture sound barefoot, just about every horse needs some kind of protection on their feet to perform the work being asked of them. Improvements in hoof boots will help the barefoot industry."
Bryan began stocking EasyCare hoof boots just over a year ago. He tried a pair of Easyboot RXs on a laminitic horse and saw the dramatic increase in comfort immediately. He hasn't nailed shoes or pads on a laminitic horse since.
He laughs when questioned about which EasyCare products he carries, and which are his best sellers. "My customers ask that all the time! I tell them it is a matter of preference, and that all the boots work well." He carries Epics, Gloves, Trails and RXs on his trailer so customers can try each of the styles on and see what they like best. Given his personal experience with boots, he will direct them to a particular boot based on shape or condition of the hoof. "Customers really like the new Easyboot Trails. If I have a horse that over-reaches, I will put that horse in the Trails and the problem is solved. The Trail boot has a blunt face on the back of the boot so there is nothing for the hind hoof to grab a hold of and tear."
He owns three horses: a 25 year-old Appaloosa, a 13 year-old Paint, and a 4 year-old spotted saddle horse. All are barefoot and wear Easyboots. His favorite boot is the Easyboot Glove.
What of his most rewarding experience as a trimmer? "Being able to help a horse that is suffering from a painful condition like laminitis be more comfortable. It's also nice to hear customers remark how their horse's feet have never been in better shape and looked so good."
And what of a favorite event he looks forward to all year? The International Hoof-Care Summit every February in Cincinnati, OH. EasyCare will have a booth there this year, so be sure to look us up if you choose to attend!
For more information on Bryan Baire, go to the Palmetto Farrier Service website. For more information on becoming an EasyCare dealer, go to the Dealer's Corner on the EasyCare website.