I started trimming our own horse somewhere around 8th grade, not really knowing what I was doing except making them shorter. It must have worked as we never had any lame horses and we rode them a lot. From there a few of the neighbors got wind that I was doing it and they paid me to trim their backyard horses. I almost went to shoeing school after High School, but instead I went to college for a couple of years for Animal Science and worked for a farmer for few years.
I then got a job at a packing house for 7.5 years, which turned out to be a great educational opportunity for me! While I was still working there making a living, I had a guy show me how to shoe a horse, which I had seen only once before. He gave me his old anvil, hammer, clinchers and clinch block. I started shoeing my own horses, (pretty rough) but I really liked doing it. I found myself looking for any information about shoeing that I could find. Going to school was not an option, as my Wife and I had two young daughters and we had just bought an acreage in 1992, so my only option was to learn where I could while still working. Had a few friends that were horseshoers and I would ask them a lot of questions.
I became good friends with our local horse Vet, Dr. John Terry, who taught me a lot about anatomy and lameness issues. Dr. Terry gave me a flier one day for an IPFA shoeing clinic which had to be in 1995. That was my first clinic and I think Bob Pethick was the clinician. I remember asking questions that everyone else must have thought were pretty simple. Later that day he had us do an eagle eye challenge and being one to get involved, I took my anvil out of my car trunk, set it on the ground and was working on my shoe shape. Pretty crude, but I wasn’t going to just stand around, I was getting involved. By getting involved I got to meet people, made some lifelong friends, became a member of the IPFA and was able to see how other people had set up their trucks and rigs!
I would take a day off and see if I could travel with someone. These guys were Dick Harris ( I later won his own South English Classic), Jon Urich (set me up with my first and still is my forge), Mike Stanley (showed me the razor strop), Leroy Calvert (helped me make my first shoe at Dick Harris’s), Roger Alston (attended clinics at his shop), Denny Beyer (let me shoe with him at his daughters), Bob Urich (made a nail hole in the bottom of my empty beer can), Chris and Cody Gregory (attended their blacksmithing clinic) and all were a big part of my education, along with a whole lot of other people I have met over the years! Ray Legel probably tolerated me the most! I have followed him and asked him a lot of questions over the years. He has come down and helped me several times on some of the tougher problem horses. He was a great influence on the way I learned to shoe horses.
I got to meet Dan White while he was working at ISU, we became good friends and during the winter months I would try and get over there and work with him on Fridays. I was able to learn a lot at ISU, got to work with a lot of the Vets and learn more anatomy and view radiographs of different feet and their problems. Dan, along with the IPFA clinics, were a big help in getting me ready for my Certified Certification and my Journeyman Certification. In 2000 I passed my Certified Certification and in 2002 I passed my Journeyman Certification. They were both quite the journey and quite the accomplishments from where I had started!
I quit my job at the packing house in the summer of 1997 to go shoeing full-time. I thought I was too busy to have time for work anymore. I found out in the fall that I wasn’t that busy. Being hungry, I did some fall work for some neighboring farmers, and then started driving school bus twice a day to keep some money coming in. I have now been driving a school bus for 23 years! They won’t let you go! I now only drive in the mornings, which is a good way to get my day started.
I have always been a member of the IPFA, and I have not missed very many clinics or functions! Going and getting involved has been a good way to keep myself motivated. I always seem to learn something! I have always volunteered to take on some sort of responsibility in the IPFA. I served as a Director, Vice President and President! I have been the editor and publisher of the newsletter since about 1999 (not sure exactly). I have also had several clinics at my place over the years.
About the time I became the President of the association was when my daughters, Lakoda and KeAnn, were really hitting the Jr. High and High School Rodeos. That took up about five weekends in the fall and five weekends in the spring. Those weekends were also when we’ve always had our clinics! It was a busy time! I sure don’t regret any of it, but it was a little hectic getting everything done and being able to afford it. My girls and my beautiful wife Ashley were a lot of help through it all!
For a period of three years, I had the opportunity to work for the Anvil Brand farrier supply company as a sales representative at the World Quarter Horse Show, and a couple years at the World Reining Futurity in Oklahoma City. This gave me quite the opportunity to talk to a whole host of other farriers coming in to buy shoeing supplies. I heard a lot of horse shoeing stories! The people at Anvil Brand have become great friends!
One thing I wish I would have learned a lot earlier in my career, when trimming or shoeing several horses, is to have all the horses out, tied up close to the working area and not let them put any away until they were all done. It would have saved me a lot of headaches throughout my career! They are a herd animal. I don’t care how broke they are, they get nervous when they are alone or when they start putting the other horses away. I have also found that I do not care to shoe for big barns, and I am not very impressed with most horse trainers and their ability to have them trained to stand for the farrier.
I don’t want to do a lot of horses a day. I want to do a few and do them right. I don’t want to be crippled in a few years by doing a ton of horses a day. I want to make a decent living at it and do it for a long time. That means I have to keep my prices at a decent price, which means I have to be worth it to the customer. Therefore, I have to be knowledgeable and good at what I do. That is where all the education I have gained through the clinics and all the other sources, have come into play. (I hope!) To keep me in shape I get up every morning and do stretches, then I roll over my back roller to pop and stretch my back. All this gets everything moving and limbered up. I really think it helps. (Probably is just God’s will!)
I have to say, that I have really enjoyed horseshoeing for a career! Before I switched to be a farrier, I would find myself getting bored with a job after about two years and switching to something else. I have been doing this full-time now for 23 years! It has made me a good living. I was able to raise two beautiful daughters and get them to all their rodeos and pay off our little acreage. I am now 55 years old and still doing pretty good, although, if someone would offer me a job making a lot of money and not doing much, I would take it in a minute. (Wouldn’t we all!)