Moffat, Colo., farrier Don Skoglund passed away Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. He was 92.
Skoglund’s parents migrated from Sweden to the United States in search of a better life. He was born and raised in Duluth, Minn., during the Great Depression when people had to eat potato peelings and wrap their sandwiches in newspaper. He was the sixth of nine children. For the first part of his life he didn’t know whether he was in Sweden or the United States because the family spoke in Swedish.
As a child he milked cows on his grandfather’s farm, Amity Valley Dairy. He worked on the section gang for The Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway (DM&IR) and the shipyards of Duluth. At age 14 he managed a horse stable for state Sen. Arthur E. Nelson. Often, he talked about horseback riding after work through Lester Park at night.
Skoglund served in the Army as a private first class in the seventh United States Cavalry Regiment. He received a World War II Victory Medal and Army of Occupation Medal in Japan. He attended the Real Horsemanship Academy in Denver, Colo., where he met his future bride and studied the art and science of horsemanship. In 1951, he enrolled at California State Polytechnic College in San Luis Obispo to study horseshoeing. He graduated from the program, which certified him to shoe horses on any racetrack in the United States that was sponsored by the Thoroughbred Breeders Association.
Skoglund moved to Kansas City and began his career on the racetrack with Pop Cole, an old-time horseshoer. In 1953, immediately after marrying Elizabeth Carol Petsch in Denver, he became sponsored by the Veterans Administration as a licensed instructor to train veterans in the trade of horseshoeing. Later, someone recommended that he get hired on at Rocky Flats. He worked for Dow Chemical Co. from 1954-63, a manufacturing complex that produced nuclear weapons parts and fabricated plutonium pits to be assembled into nuclear war heads. Due to unbearable safety hazards, he quit and remained self-employed for the rest of his life.
Skoglund was a well known blacksmith, farrier and horse trainer from 1949-2017. His passions included his family, nicknaming everyone, working in his barn, training horses – especially for driving and trail riding, hunting on horseback, milking cows, having a good dog, listening to music, drinking coffee, and “talking about the neighbors.”
A private family ceremony was held in the Rito Alto Cemetery near his home in Moffat, Colo.