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In the Texas Panhandle, as well as many other areas across the nation’s midsection, feedlot cattle outnumber people. Some hold more than 60,000 cattle at the same time.
Thousands of horses carry feedyard cowboys every day, and they all have to be shod. That presents an opportunity for certain horseshoers.
Feedyard horses are typically used every other or every third day and are usually ridden all day long. Those horses are ridden up and down alleys, some of which are caliche (a sedentary rock also called hardpan), gravel or even concrete, as well as through manure-filled pens. When it is dry, those pens are rock hard, but when it rains the liquefied manure may be knee-deep on a horse. Miles of imperfect conditions each day require a horse to be shod, and shod well.
Plainview, Texas, lies near the southern edge of the Texas Panhandle and the state’s cattle feeding center. John Brunson, a 32-year-old horseshoer, grew up here and makes the majority of his living at feedlots around the Panhandle.
Brunson grew up shoeing. His dad is a preacher who shod horses on the side. Brunson later married into a shoeing family. His grandfather-in-law, Bobby Wardlaw, a feedyard shoer with decades of experience, taught him some more about the trade.
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