More than 30 years ago, farrier Dan Helton, CJF, attended Jim Keith’s horseshoeing program at Tucumcari Vocational School in New Mexico. The lessons learned from the Hall of Fame farrier and blacksmith decades ago remained with Helton throughout his career. Today, Keith influences Helton, who will leave his farrier practice and operate a horseshoeing school like his mentor.
In early spring 2024, Helton will open the Bluegrass Horseshoeing School in Williamsburg, Ky., in the south-central part of the state. Currently based in Rossville, Ind., Helton says the Kentucky location is ideal for a farrier school.
“The weather isn’t too extreme and there are not just a large number of horses, but also a variety of breeds,” he says, adding that his experiences of working with Western, English and gaited disciplines will help his students.
Helton plans to offer classes at 12-, 16- and 24-week blocks. He believes that shorter 8-week courses end just as students begin to understand key concepts of farriery. The longer duration classes will add a deeper understanding for his graduates to prepare them for the workforce.
He plans to maintain a five-to-one student-to-teacher ratio. Helton is working on the curriculum, but says he will feature key building blocks, such as anatomy and forging. One portion of the curriculum he highlights is business. Helton believes this is an area that he can really aid students by sharing problems he encountered and mistakes he made through his 32-year career.
“I can offer different scenarios throughout my career, whether it is how to deal with difficult clients or problematic horses,” he says.
His wife, Kim Helton, adds that many of those lessons will benefit the students. The opportunity to help new farriers motivates her husband to move from the barn aisle to the classroom.
“This has been a dream of his over the last few years — to open a school and give back by helping young people,” she says. “To recreate that special way that Jim Keith taught him and so many others to be self-sufficient farriers who won't cut corners.”
For more information on the Bluegrass Horseshoeing School, email email@example.com or call (765) 227-7923.