HANDS THAT TALK. The bent fingers and gnarled hands of Harold Thomas tell the tale of the thousands of horses the New Mexico farrier has worked under during 40-plus years of shoeing, mostly at racetracks.
All horseshoers know that what they do for a living is hard on their bodies, but most choose to ignore the fact. Younger shoers want to shoe more horses and spend more of their pay without worry, but most older shoers will admit they wish when they were younger that they had paid more attention to the physical toll the job takes.
Farriers are used to hearing customers make claims such as “I’d trim my horses myself if my back was as good as yours.” The truth, however, is that horseshoers do not have invincible bodies. They’re just able to ignore and endure the everyday pains that go with the job.
The sad truth is that too many horseshoers ignore the facts until it is too late. They shoe too many horses and don’t save enough money. When time and pain catches up to them, they can be left in a tough situation. The financial difficulties that result are not the only problem.
Shoeing horses is more than a job or occupation; it is a way of life that defines many farriers. Losing that way of life can be devastating psychologically. Some farriers shoe until retirement with no major difficulties. Others are not so…