Ramsey, Minn., farrier Mark Thorkildson grew up around horses. During his youth, the work by the farriers who shod his family’s horses didn’t spark Thorkildson’s interest in footcare. It wasn’t necessarily that their work was bad, but these shoers were in-and-out backyard practitioners. Nothing stood out about their work with horses that would catch the eye of a novice.
That interest arrived for Thorkildson when his mother began showing Quarter Horses on the world level. They hauled a horse with foot issues to River Falls, Wis., where Bob Racich had a veterinary and farrier practice. The work performed there to help the horse opened Thorkildson’s eyes to superior hoof care.
“It put things in a different light,” he recalls. “I saw forging shoes and pulling clips — things I hadn’t seen before.”
That craftsmanship, absent in the early footcare Thorkildson witnessed, inspired him to attend the Oklahoma Horseshoeing School in late 1994. He’s been in the industry ever since.
After shoeing school, Thorkildson worked under a few different mentors, with two particularly providing impactful direction. Dave Jacobson exposed him to a high number of horses, spread across various disciplines. Customer service was important for the elder farrier, so Thorkildson gained insight on those better practices.
The other mentor, Bill Qualey, stressed continuing education by attending clinics and conferences. Thorkildson recalls when that mentor took him to the Bluegrass Laminitis Symposium about 20 years ago. That was another eye-opening experience.
Before and after his work, Thorkildson will watch each horse move…