I started shoeing when I was twenty-three. I have always had horses and liked the art of horseshoeing. I went to the Oklahoma State Horseshoeing School which was recommended to me by my then mentor, Lester Back, who I apprenticed under for two years. I shod horses for eight years before I had enough clients to make a living at it. During that time, I worked at John Deere for 4 years before moving to Texas and doing construction. The economy got better back in Iowa in the late 80’s so I returned and have been shoeing fulltime since. I can’t say that I have ever had a worst experience shoeing. It’s hard to believe that I have never been bit or kicked. I guess it’s because I know any horse can bite or kick and I don’t put myself in any position or situation where that can happen. The most rewarding part of my career is the thought of being successful in making a simple living. To me, it makes no difference if you shoe the paper boy’s horse or the millionaire’s world champion. It’s all the same from the knees down. Looking back, I would change nothing. I feel everything I have experienced, should be experienced, to keep you humble. I wish I could start over tomorrow and I would charge more, basically to weed out the bad customer. I would still choose to be a farrier, but I would start earlier in life. The IPFA has helped guide me through life, not only the knowledge I have gained, but also the life lessons of being a human being. If I had a Son I would push him to be the best he could be, no matter what he chose to do. I would give him Dick Harris’ advise, “Do your level best and you’ll be okay”. Let the criticism roll off your back. Sometimes being thick-skinned can be the best tool in your arsenal. The thing I like least about shoeing, is the lack of customers with good basic horse sense. The best part of shoeing, is doing things my way – sink or swim. I love being the worst boss I ever had. I would like to be known as a good husband, father, grandfather, friend and horseshoer. P.S. It never hurts to have a best friend and mentor like Ray Legel.
Editor’s Note: About four years ago, Roger came up with an idea. He and his wife, Carrie, volunteered to open up their shop every Tuesday night to promote farrier education. Anyone who wished to stop by was welcomed. It quickly became known as “Tuesday Night at Roger’s”. Word spread fast and horses with problems came from as far as 140 miles away. On any given night, there would be anywhere from five to ten farriers there and one to three DVM’s to read X-Rays and offer their expertise. After consultation with all present, ideas were put into motion. Some forged, others pulled shoes, some trimmed, and others watched and asked questions. It was a group effort and everyone went home with more knowledge than they came with. After the horses had all left, Roger would fire up his forge and help anyone that needed help in the fire. An all around educational evening at no charge. All the farriers, horses, and clients that reaped the benefits from “Tuesday Night at Roger’s” say “Thanks” to Roger and Carrie for their sacrifice of time and energy to make it all happen. It was very much appreciated!