Bringing Innovations to the Farrier World
Alex Garcia has a love for the horse shoeing industry and hopes to bring educational opportunities to farriers in the Mount Rushmore state. The California native moved to South Dakota in recent years and started the first farrier supply store in the state (Hot Iron Farrier Supply), striving to serve farriers in South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska. This isn’t an ordinary supply store, though; Garcia has big plans for his shop.
Garcia has been shoeing horses since 2007 when his own farrier in southern California asked if he ever had an interest in the industry. Garcia said that he originally planned on becoming a police officer or firefighter…horse shoeing was never in the picture. Garcia’s farrier began to mentor him until he was able to do the job on his own when he was a junior in high school. The farrier’s advice: go to a clinic.
Soon after, Garcia attended a clinic in California where he became hooked on the trade after watching a presentation done by one of the clinicians. Garcia has been shoeing horses for a total of 16 years and continues to shoe horses part time since he moved to South Dakota. He shod horses in northern and southern California which then led him to teaching at a farrier school for a year and a half.
“Teaching was great,” says Garcia. “I thought I was going to hate it, but it was my transition out of horseshoeing in that area and then coming out here to start the store.”
Garcia and his wife, Hanna, had a three-year plan for the store. The first year involved lots of paperwork behind the store and buying direct from each manufacturer. In June of 2022, the store was opened. Although foot traffic hasn’t been overwhelming, Garcia explained that they have been steady with high hopes for the future.
In the store, Alex tries to keep a little bit of everything in stock. With anything from horseshoes to nails to hand tools to anvils, he explains that he likes to make sure he has what he needs to support the local farriers. Customers also don’t have to walk in to get the products they need; Alex also takes phone orders and completes around 10 shipments a week. If he doesn’t carry a product in store, he is willing to connect the farrier with the distributor that they need. He explains that he’s happy to help the farrier, even if he “might lose a dollar on it.”
Being a farrier himself has helped him understand what customers are looking for. He doesn’t consider himself to be a consultant, but is able to figure out what they are trying to achieve. He’s able to understand the products better so that he can give his customers the best service.
Although Garcia has a shop full of farrier supplies, that isn’t the main goal of the operation. Hot Iron’s motto, “providing innovation with a value for tradition,” is his main goal. Garcia strives to get farriers the help they need, not only in the supply department, but also in the education department.
“We’re here to bring the innovations but also have a respect and value for the tradition of the trade,” says Garcia.
In order to bring these innovations to the attention of local farriers, Garcia began hosting clinics. Hot Iron Farrier Supply sponsored the first clinic in October of 2022, allowing it to be free for all those who attended. Garcia explained that the clinics aren’t meant to change how people shoe horses, but rather to help farriers modernize their specialized trade. Alex brings in more than just traditional farrier clinicians; he strives for variety and finds clinicians that range in topics from blacksmiths to anatomy to glue-on processes. The goal is to give farriers a well-rounded education.
At each clinic, farriers are able to work on horses in the gravel lot behind the store, watch demonstrations, listen to presentations, experience dissections, and more. This coming September, Hot Iron Farrier Supply is hosting a clinic sponsored by Farrier Distribution Products, allowing the clinic to be free to all. Garcia says that all are welcome, no matter their age or experience level.
“I always tell the guys that come to clinics here, it’s not what you learn at the clinic, it’s the people at the clinic you learn from,” says Garcia. “It’s more like farriers comparing notes.”
Alex is excited for the store to continue to grow with new customers and clinics. With word to mouth being his best form of marketing, he says that he sees at least one new face every week. The store is meant to be a support system for vet clinics and farriers, bringing helpful information to them that they may not be aware of, while also providing the supplies that they may need on the job.