When I was 9 years old I met my childhood best friend and our adventures with horses began. Initially, we had about thirty My Little Pony plastic toys and took care of them as if they were real. The following year we started spending time with her dad's barely trained Thoroughbreds and riding in the foothills of Cochrane, Alberta. The year after that I began working at a barn with over 150 horses and spent as much time as possible after school at that ranch. The owner of the ranch taught me how to barrel race on Codger, a reliable, older Heinz 57 gelding who took care of me and endured my lack of knowledge and experience. On the weekends we would venture from the ranch to EmTe Town to help lead trail rides.
After Codger I was given a yearly gelding, Cisco, from the owners of the ranch in exchange for chores. We also had two more horses at our farm, Duke, a reliable, patient horse who used to grunt along when I sang "Duke of Earl" to him, and Murphy, an untrained but willing Appaloosa that my brother rode bareback and bridleless, following Duke and I as we ventured through the woods and down the road. Sometimes Murphy would stop for a bite to eat while Duke and I continued on, and would eventually high tail it back to us with my brother on his back, his only option to bail if things got bad. My dad took care of the majority of our hoof care needs; we only called the farrier for my rodeo horses. In all that time and with many more horses added to our herd, I had never met a female farrier. I didn't even know farriery was a job women could do.
After high school my journey led me to outdoor adventure, travel, and college. I received a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Missouri. During college I worked at Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center and at the Columbia Environmental Research Center as a Biologist Assistant. After moving to Vermont I was finally able to put my English degree to use working as an Editorial Assistant at the University of Vermont. But the office environment with its cubicles, business casual attire, double monitor computer screens, and hours on end spent in an office chair, was not for me. The hunt for my true passion began. I spent as much time as possible scouring the internet, trying to figure out a new career path. I reworked my office schedule to four 10-hour days to allow for Fridays and part of Saturday volunteering at a natural horsemanship farm in Johnson, the Center for Americas First Horse. It was here that I met my first female farrier and immediately knew that farriery was the career for me. My love of horses, love of physical labor, and drive to continue learning all fit flawlessly into this career. And so the farriery journey began and continues to this day.
The word farrier originated sometime between 1375-1425 and is a variant of the Old French word, ferrier, meaning "smith", and the Latin word ferrum, meaning "iron". Thus a blacksmith applying steel shoes to a hoof would be called a farrier. A barefoot trimmer on the other hand wouldn't be considered a farrier simply because they are not blacksmiths and do not apply steel shoes to the hoof; so it makes sense to call the hoof care provider a barefoot trimmer. Semantics aside, you can call me either! In 2012 my hoof care journey began as a farrier. I learned to apply steel, aluminum, clogs, and composite shoes to the hoof. After nine years of developing my craft, I transitioned away from the application of steel and aluminum shoes and now offer barefoot trimming, glue on composite shoes when necessary, and boots.
Hoof care has evolved and advanced over the years, particularly in the last twenty years, and the materials available to hoof care providers now versus 1000 years ago are vast. Steel is no longer the only option--farriers can nail on steel, aluminum, and composite shoes, and can glue those materials directly to the hoof as well. As with any topic in the horse industry, hoof care has a multitude of theories on how to approach trimming and protecting horses feet.
Optimal hoof health requires proper equine nutrition, a healthy living environment, exercise and movement, and appropriate hoof care. Remember that a variety of theories and approaches to hoof care are available and mine is one of many. As the horse owner YOU need to decide what theory and approach you resonate with and what in your experience seems to be healthiest for your horse over time.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns regarding your horse's feet!