Farrier Takeaways

  • Jake Stonefield’s haul-in practice enables him to control the work environment more effectively, as well as eliminates the headaches of travel and catching horses.
  • Gain clients’ trust by being transparent with shoeing costs, finding cost-effective alternatives that achieve the same goals and compromising with the hoof-care team when it doesn’t harm the horse.
  • Take the extra time to replace a shoe when you miss the fit. Leaving it on demonstrates a lack of respect for the client and reflects poorly on you.

Conventional wisdom suggests farriers must travel to their hoof-care clients if they want to stay in business. After all, what motivation do clients have to surrender the convenience of their shoer arriving at their barn to perform a valuable service?

Once upon a time, Jake Stonefield counted himself among the skeptics. He knew his buddy Allan Voeller was thriving with a haul-in practice, but that’s in Bismarck, N.D. The state capitol has a healthy 74,429 population within its city limits, and that doesn’t include the surrounding suburbs and rural residences. Meanwhile, there are more cattle in the neighboring pasture than the 107 souls who join Stonefield in calling Brandt, S.D., home.

“A haul-in practice can’t work for me,” he recalls telling Voeller. “There’s no way.”

Make no mistake, Stonefield was busy. He was putting in 16-hour days — 6 hours of which were spent behind the wheel driving 200 miles a day — shoeing up to 10 horses daily.

“I was stressed out because of the hours I was working,” Stonefield says. “I was just beyond crazy.”

Then the phone started ringing. Dream clients were looking for a new farrier and they wanted Stonefield.

“These are the clients who put their horses on a 5-week schedule because that is what’s best for their horses,” he says. “They’re not worried about their pocketbooks. I had to turn them away. I just couldn’t add more clients.”

One was persistent.

“I told her, ‘ma’am, you just don’t live in my area,’” Stonefield recalls. “‘You’re 73 miles away. I just can’t get to you.’ She said, ‘No, I’d really like to have you shoe my horses. What if I haul them to you?’”

After accepting her offer, the dynamic changed. More horse owners learned about the arrangement and wanted in. After crunching the numbers with his accountant, they determined that Stonefield could lose 27% of his clients and still make the same amount, work less and never leave the yard. It was a no-brainer, so he reached out to his clients to inform them of the change.

“I told them that I understand if they couldn’t stay with me, but it’s what I needed to do for my sanity, my family and my business,” Stonefield says. “I didn’t lose one client.”

Two years later, his farrier practice is thriving with less stress and more time for his young family. On this “Shoeing for a Living” day, Stonefield shares how he keeps his clients happy while they continue to haul their horses to him as gas and diesel prices soar.


Stonefield prepares Judy’s foot for a shoeing package that the hoof-care team hopes will put a dent in the gray mare’s thrush infection. Initially, the veterinarian wanted a bar shoe to help keep the back of the foot together. However, it would not allow the client to treat the infection. They arrived at a solution in which a plate would secure pour-in pad material containing copper sulfate.

Gaining Clients’ Trust

Stonefield’s lone client on this day is Lisa Bruley, who is a successful barrel racer and trainer. She operates a ranch with her husband and sons that consists of roping, cutting and barrel horses. Bruley is an original dream client. Stonefield has been shoeing her family’s large herd for about a decade.

“Lisa is one of the most capable ladies I know,” he says. “She’s almost unbeatable as a trainer and a rider. Some could only wish to have her talent. I’m fortunate to have built this nice group of clientele. Almost all of them are like Lisa — they’re easy to work with and they trust me. The secret is getting them to trust you.”

How does he accomplish that?

“Don’t spend their money,” Stonefield says. “It’s as simple as that. I’m transparent about my prices. I have them posted on the wall. My clients will never be surprised by the shoeing bill. If you don’t work in a shop, have it in a folder on the tailgate of your truck so they know exactly what they’re spending before you get there.”

When possible, he suggests finding cost-effective ways to accomplish hoof-care goals.

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Stonefield drills rivet holes to secure a shoeing package for Judy that consists of a modified St. Croix Advantage 7/8 fullered shoe, Grand Circuit Protector Plate, copper sulfate and a Farrier’s Choice pour-in pad. A drill press is used to drill nail holes through Judy’s shoe to the Protector Plate.

“Pour-in pads are expensive,” Stonefield says. “By the time you figure in time, materials and prep, if you’re not charging $55 a foot, you’re losing money. You can accomplish that with skill by applying a $7 set of pads and $4 work of dental impression material in the same amount of time. You can charge them $45 to demonstrate you are skilled and save them $55. That’s the big thing — don’t spend their money.”

Bruley pulls a large horse trailer up to a small barn that Stonefield converted into his shoeing shop. Bruley unloads the four barrel horses that she brought with her today — Tarzan, Judy, Fire and Roxy. Stonefield leads Tarzan, a black Quarter Horse with a white star in the center of his forehead, into the shop and secures him to a metal ring mounted on the wall. While Bruley ties Fire and Roxy to the horse trailer, Stonefield leads Judy next to Tarzan to keep him company.

“The environment is so easy to control here,” Stonefield says. “Since I have two tie areas for the horses, I don’t have to deal with them squealing and running. I don’t have to wait for people to catch their horses in the pasture, which used to just fry me. They knew I was coming. It’s 5 p.m. on a Friday and I have to sit there for an hour until they’re caught and work on them for a couple of hours. I would lose out on a night with my family. It was hard to keep a healthy mindset.”

Stonefield’s forging area is just far enough away from the horses to be able to straighten his back for several steps, yet remain efficient. A Forgemaster propane forge stands to the left of a 200 lbs. Anvil Brand Legend anvil that has been mounted onto a sand base stand. Behind him within a few steps away is a Baldor grinder, a Dewalt band saw, a Central Machinery 5-speed bench drill press and a large toolbox.

Bench-Knee Conformation

Tarzan has a bench-knee or off-set knee conformation, which is an axial deformity in which the radius and cannon bones do not line up. As a result, unequal forces are placed on the knee joints. Tarzan is slightly toed-in, which will cause him to land on the inside toe first. Bruley keeps all of her barrel horses on a 5-week schedule, which is particularly beneficial for keeping Tarzan balanced and sound so he maintains a consistent performance.

Stonefield begins with Tarzan’s right front foot, with the goal of trimming and shoeing him so his front feet are centered to the limb.


Gain more insight by:

  • Reading “Identifying the Equine Hot Spots” for considerations for determining where to set up your hoof-care business.
  • Reading “What Does a Barrel Horse Need to Succeed?” in which a rider and farrier share their thoughts on providing the mount with confidence to compete.
  • Reading “Shoeing Barrel Horses,” in which Texas farrier Richard Dunivant discusses his footcare techniques for these equine athletes.

Dunivant discusses his footcare techniques for these equine athletes. Access this content by visiting

“When they first got him, it looked like he was as pigeon-toed as he could get,” he recalls. “He wasn’t, though. It was just distortion. I trim him flat and I’m trying to get that shoe to the center of the limb the best I can without it being detrimental to the horse.”

The gelding’s feet are in excellent shape with a healthy frog and a beautiful concave sole. He keeps the barrel horse in a Kerckhaert Century Support, which is a ¾ fullered shoe that offers wider heels for support. It also features a wider toe to promote longer wear. All of these attributes help Stonefield accomplish his goal with Tarzan.

After finishing with the front right, Stonefield moves on to the right hind. He prefers applying St. Croix Crossover shoes and squares the toes.

“He has a history of overreaching,” Stonefield explains. “I’m just removing the leading edge of that shoe while leaving the hoof capsule in its proper form.”

Combating Thrush

After finishing up with Tarzan, Stonefield moves over to Judy, a gray mare that is battling thrush. Despite Bruley’s best efforts, the bacterial infection is not improving. In an attempt to get ahead of it, the veterinarian suggests a bar shoe to help keep the caudal aspect of the foot together.

“Lisa is one of those clients who truly does the daily treatments, it’s just not improving,” Stonefield says. “If we put a bar shoe on, she won’t be able to access the back of the foot to continue those treatments.”

Offering a compromise, Stonefield texts the veterinarian suggesting a shoeing package that consists of a Grand Circuit Protector Plate and a Farrier’s Choice pour-in pad to secure copper sulfate in place to medicate the infected area. The veterinarian responds affirmatively.

Starting with the front right, Stonefield pulls the handmade concave shoes and begins his trim. Despite the thrushy central sulcus, Stonefield notes how the sole is a nice cream color with strong concavity. After removing the necrotic tissue from the infected area, Stonefield begins shaping a 7/8 fullered St. Croix Advantage.

I didn’t lose one client when I switched to a haul-in practice …

“I knocked the inner web of the shoe down a little bit to make sure I didn’t have any sole pressure,” he says. “The Advantage is one of my go-to shoes. It’s easy to shape and fit. Between that and the Crossover, I probably use them 90% of the time.”

After burning the shoe on, Stonefield cools it off and retreats to his drill press where he creates rivet holes. Using a marker, he draws a template of the shoe on the Protector Plate and removes the excess material at the band saw. Stonefield returns to the drill press and uses the rivet holes in the shoe as a pilot for the plate. Retrieving copper pegs from his toolbox, Stonefield secures the plate to the shoe and rivets them in place.

Donning a protective face shield, Stonefield removes the rough, sharp edges from the plate. Once completed, he returns to the drill press and creates the nail holes through the shoe and into the plate.

Stonefield applies the package to Judy’s right front, grabs a handful of Forshner’s Hoof Packing and creates a dam by covering the front half of the sole. He applies ground copper sulfate crystals through the mesh in the caudal area of the foot and secures the hoof packing with several strips of yellow duct tape.

“This is so much easier than wrapping the foot with cellophane,” Stonefield says.

Using a caulk gun, he squirts Farrier’s Choice pour-in pad between the frog and the plate. After it sets up, Stonefield gently places the foot on the floor and moves on to the right hind. The foot cleans up well despite the telltale signs of gentian violet stains on a sole that typically is cream-colored.

He shapes a St. Croix Crossover ¾ fullered shoe, burns it on and nails it up.

“Generally, traction is not my main concern in my shoe selection,” he says. “My futurity and barrel horses perform in such well-groomed areas. The ground is 5 inches deep. They’re not going from dirt to a hard-panned rodeo surface. My choice is shoes is more about protecting the horse to and from the trailer than it is traction in the arena.”

After completing the right hind foot and repeating the application of the St. Croix Advantage/Protector Plate shoeing package, he returns to the right front. The duct tape removes as easily as a candy bar wrapper, exposing the hoof packing material and a thin coating of solidified pour-in pad over the frog plate. He removes the packing material and explains to Bruley how the pour-in pad will secure the copper sulfate in the frog, saving her time from having to perform daily treatments.

Stonefield repeats the process on the left side, prompting a version of equine musical chairs — swapping out Tarzan and Judy for Fire and Roxy.

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Stonefield finds it’s much easier to use duct tape to secure the hoof for the pour-in pad than plastic wrap.

Slipping at the Barrels

Stonefield pulls Fire’s right front shoe, cleans out the foot and begins his trim. Like Tarzan, the gelding has a strong, healthy concaved sole. Stonefield ignites the forge and pops a new 7/8 fullered Advantage front shoe under the burner. After shaping the shoe, he guides his fuller to the manufactured crease and begins extending it toward the start of its twin on the opposing branch.

The options for the appendix Quarter Horse’s shoes seemed to come straight out of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

“He’s a little slippery on the back end,” Stonefield says. “We had him in concave at one time to help him gain more traction, but he pretty much quit running. He didn’t like all of the extra on the back. When we had ¾ fullered, he was slipping at the barrels.”

When he nailed on a pair of 7/8 fullered, it was just right.

“We adjusted to that,” he says, “and we found that it was just enough added grab for him that he was happy to run.”

Stonefield adds one last modification to the lateral heel by running a quick 1-inch crease with his fuller on the inside web to provide Fire with a little extra support.

Compromising with the Client

Sliding over the final horse of the day, it’s apparent when Stonefield picks up Roxy’s front right foot that her attitude isn’t the only thing setting her apart from the other three horses. While Tarzan, Judy and Fire all had nicely concave soles, the roan mare has flat feet and a frog that appears to be welded into the sole.

Although Bruley brought the horse, it’s owned by another barrel racer who purchased Roxy from Bruley. Sometime after the sale, the mare’s performance declined. The owner’s veterinarian wanted to try Natural Balance aluminum Performance Leverage Reduction (PLR) shoes to see if they could turn her performance around.

“I advised them that while the PLR has its place as a therapeutic shoe, Roxy is not a therapeutic case,” Stonefield recalls. “But I feel that it’s not going to help this horse win races.”

We should have a level of compliance, especially if it’s not going to hurt the horse …

The vet insisted and Stonefield wanted to keep the client.

“If we covet the client, we should have a level of compliance, especially if it’s not going to hurt the horse,” he says. “I always tell the client, if this doesn’t work out, I have some other options that I’d like to try.”

In the meantime, Stonefield managed the foot to ensure that he not only still has the foot, but it responds quickly. He begins by trimming the hoof rounder in the corners of the toe. He also wants to avoid wearing off the toe, which requires him to apply a larger shoe.

“Using Duckett’s Dot as a measurement when using the PLR, I never seemed to be able to fit a heel with the shoe,” he says. “It always seemed short. If I go up one size bigger and close the shoe up a little bit, I can move it forward and still cover the heels. When you want to go back to a more traditional type of shoeing, you won’t have the toe ground off. Instead of setting the shoe back, it’s increasing the size by one, putting a bit more of a normal shape in it and just covering the toe.”

After finishing up Roxy, Stonefield puts the hind foot down and realizes that the fit isn’t where he wants it. Grabbing the crease nail pullers from his Stonewell shoeing box, he pulls the shoe and starts over.

“If I were to leave that shoe on with a fit that I don’t want, it demeans the whole job,” he says. “If I did a great job on the other horses and I leave that one shoe that’s not going to make it to the horse trailer, then am I really a good shoer? Now, Lisa has to spend an hour driving back here and another hour driving back. I trust her to keep her horses in a good environment, I need to earn her trust by taking an extra 8 minutes to take that shoe off and put it back on correctly.”

Next Time

Stonefield has two large white laminated calendars posted to his wall that not only keep track of his availability but also allow them to self-schedule. When the calendar is updated, Stonefield enters it into his Square Appointments app on his phone. After it’s scheduled, it sends his clients an email notification and an automatic reminder closer to the
shoeing appointment.

“Once they’re in the app, it gets even easier,” he says. “I have one client who brings nine horses and he prefers to have them reoccurring for the same time and day of the week. There’s an option to do that. Now, he’s scheduled all the way to December before he goes to Arizona. That’s a huge time saver.”

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The Square Appointments app is a time-saving measure for Stonefield since some of his clients prefer reoccurring appointments. It’s also a good service for his clients as they receive an email notification, as well as a reminder closer to the shoeing appointment.

Roxy’s Epilogue

A few weeks after shoeing Roxy with the PLRs, the owner remained unsatisfied with the mare’s performance. She reached out to Stonefield about taking another approach. He suggested 7/8 fullered concave on the fronts and replacing the ¾ fullered shoes on the hinds with 7/8.

Roxy not only won her first race, she followed it up with another victory the following week.

“They said, ‘We’ll never doubt you again,’” he says with a chuckle. “There were other changes going on besides the shoeing. The mare has been back in daily training on a consistent basis and Lisa rode the horse. She has been one of the premier regional riders for 35 years. The shoes didn’t help nor hurt the horse, but they kept it from its full potential. The training regimen with Lisa and her son was probably 90% of it.”

The combination of Stonefield’s willingness to comply with his client’s wishes while having a backup plan not only helped the horse win, it likely cemented a long-term hoof-care relationship with his client.

“I love what I do, but horseshoeing is stressful because you’re dealing with the well-being of an animal,” he says. “We enjoyed success because we just got out of the horse’s way again.”