My husband is a farrier, or more commonly known as a horseshoer. He spends his days bent over underneath a horse. To be clear, many horses. People ask him all the time “Can you really do that full-time? Are there that many horses out there?” He always answers with a smile and a quiet “Yep.” But what’s he’s not saying is that it’s more than full time. It’s around-the-clock and always-on-call.
Most mornings my husband wakes up with an aching back, and most nights he lays down to bed with one as well. He knows more about how to care for back injuries than most medical professionals, and he can tell you more about how to read a horse than many professional horse trainers. But he’ll never give you advice that’s not requested, and he’ll never walk with a swagger or pretend he knows what he doesn’t. He’s a student of hard work, a professor of bodily injuries, and he’s earned a Ph.D in client relations and scheduling. He has days that are incredibly frustrating, when every single horse is rotten and doesn’t want to cooperate, and his scheduling sometimes gets so tight he can’t even grab lunch. Still, he won’t take it out on the horses, or his clients, or his family. He still tries his hardest on every single hoof, on every single horse, to give them what they need to compete at the highest level, pack kids safely around, or just enjoy their well-deserved retirement.
He ignores the toll this job is taking on his body, and the fact that he’ll never have a cushy retirement, or the certainty that comes with a steady paycheck. He knows the winters will always be slow, and the spring and summers backbreaking and cripplingly busy. He’s very much aware that he’ll receive texts and calls at all hours of the day and night, sometimes for real emergencies, other times to replace a lost shoe, and once in a while just for an odd question that needs answered or a mind that needs soothed. He forms emotional attachments to horses that he cares for over many years, and then loses those horses, time and time again, from everything to old age, to being sold, or even to another fellow farrier because their owner felt someone else could do his job better. All of that he deals with on a daily basis, and he knows it won’t ever change, and it’s simply the nature of the beast. So he gets up every morning and continues every day, throwing his heart and every ounce of skill he’s got into that hammer, and that rasp, and that anvil, and that horse. He humbles himself time and time again to learn more, to be more, to do more. To make sure every hoof is right, that every shoe is tight, and every client is taken care of. That no one is charged more than he would be willing to pay for the same job, and they know how much he appreciates their business.
He does it because he loves the animals, he’s found his calling, and he finds contentment in those long-term friendships, both with clients and their horses. He loves those moments when he actually receives some credit, and he’s told that he’s worked wonders, even though much of the time it’s attributed to their new magnetic fly sheet, or their herbal supplement. For him, that’s perfectly fine, because all he wants in life are happy horses. No acclaim, and no special accolades, just happy, healthy horses. If that’s not a good man, I don’t know what is. Lucky to call him my farrier, Lord knows we couldn’t replace him if we had to.
Happiness and Hoofbeats,
The Gate Girl
Photo by Stephanie Sidoti, University of Missouri Grad Student