Denny grew up in New Sharon, Iowa with horses and rodeos, so learning to shoe just seemed the natural thing to do. He never intended to make a living at it. He just wanted to shoe his own horses and make a little extra income to supplement rodeos and farming. At one time or another he participated in all of the rodeo events but for the most part he was a bull rider. He was the Bull Riding Champion of the Iowa Rodeo Association a year or two and a member of the Iowa Rodeo Team. Denny has ridden bulls at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Canada and Madison Square Garden in New York. But before attending farrier school and not long after Denny married his wife, Vickie, a friend got them a weekend job at a horse sale, where they met the manager of a riding stable in the New York Green Belt. There were two barns, both English and Western, with lessons, trail rides, horse boarding, and all the other activities that go along with this type of operation. The riding stable manager offered them a job. This adventure took them to New York, which became a story all its’ own. One day while in New York, they hauled out to a rodeo on the “Island” with a barrel racer and her husband. Denny was working on her horse, where they just happened to be trailered next to Clayton Moore, the original Lone Ranger, and his famous white horse, Silver. Mr. Moore then asked Denny if he would “round off” Silver’s hooves. For those of us who grew up with the Lone Ranger, this would have been a dream come true, but this was just the beginning of a very successful farrier career.
Denny and Vickie returned to Iowa and started shoeing for the public at the age of twenty-four after attending the three month farrier course at the Midwest Horseshoeing School in Macomb, Illinois. He graduated from the class in 1974 and passed the Illinois license requirements two months later. Denny apprenticed with International Horseshoeing Hall of Famer, Dick Harris, who had been Vickie’s farrier and in turn Denny’s before he went to school. He still calls Dick with questions. He has attended many clinics and seminars, including the Draft Shoeing Short Course at the Atlantic Farrier School in Nova Scotia, Canada in 1986. He became an AFA Certified Journeyman Farrier in March of 1996 at an Iowa Professional Farriers Association (IPFA) certification.
Helping people realize their dreams has been a rewarding part of Denny’s career. He has shod most any type of horse you can imagine, but he has also trimmed llamas, goats, and even elephants! Elephants weren’t part of his farrier plan, but one afternoon at a local fair, he was approached by a member of the circus troupe and was asked to trim three elephants. He was a bit apprehensive, as he had never been near an elephant, but he accomplished the task in just forty-five minutes. He found that you don’t pick up an elephant’s foot as the trainer just points and the elephant will hold the foot up for you, but they can be a little nosy, as they liked to check Denny’s work and his pockets with their trunks. He didn’t charge as he felt the experience was more than worth it.
An original founding member of the IPFA, Denny has served capacities throughout the thirty years of the Association’s existence as Secretary, Director, and Newsletter Editor. He appreciates the educational venue available through the IPFA to make better farriers that brings together a group of knowledgeable, progressive farriers who become your friends, your support, and a sounding board for questions and ideas. Denny states that he never fails to marvel at the display of talent and depth of knowledge at our clinics and seminars. Denny said he could do without working nights and weekends, but doesn’t recall any really bad experiences, although he says he does know when “things get broke”, you’re having a bad day. His advice to those interested in pursuing the farrier trade is to understand that it is not a 9 – 5 job. It is all encompassing; physically, mentally, and emotionally. One is expected to give all you have in freezing cold, sweltering heat, flood, and drought. Each person deserves to feel like they are your most important client. One less than desired outcome does your reputation more damage than many, many desired ones, and all of this for less compensation than a cross-country truck driver. Having said that, Denny states that he would do it all again with enthusiasm!