Shoeing Along the Colorado Front Range

Farrier J.D. Downs is becoming known for his work with reining horses, in part because he never hesitates to seek advice from his mentors

J.D. Downs shapes a shoe at a ranch along the Colorado Front Range. The farrier from Frederick, Colo., north of Denver, says shoeing in the high, dry climate means dealing with hard, dry feet.

Late spring is a beautiful time of year along the Colorado Front Range, an hour or so north of Denver. It seems as if there are horses in almost every field along the highway and plenty of billboards advertising rodeos and horse shows.

It looks like a good place to be a farrier and do some Shoeing For A Living.

One such farrier is James “J.D.” Downs. The Frederick, Colo., shoer is starting this particular Shoeing For A Living Day by getting a second opinion — and it’s one that doesn’t cost his client a dime.

Downs meets his mentor, and still once-a-week shoeing partner Neil Miller, for breakfast before heading out to his first call. Downs wants to get Miller’s input on a horse he’ll be shoeing that day.

Downs has been shoeing full time since 2006. He was originally a schoolteacher, but completed the horseshoeing program at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., taught by Steve Mellin. Downs figured that horseshoeing might make a good part-time and summer job, but as things have worked out, it’s become his primary employment.

Downs’s practice includes a lot of reining horses, but the one he wants Miller to look at with him is a hunter. The trainer — a regular client of Downs — has asked…

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Pat tearney

Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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