Horseshoer feels like 'luckiest man on the planet'

Photo from Napa Valley Register

Matthew Frederick didn’t set out in life to become a farrier, or horseshoer. For many years he worked as a server at local restaurants, including Auberge du Soleil. But he did own a horse, and after watching his own farrier at work, he became taken with the idea of learning the trade. Enrolling at a farrier school, “from the first day I was sold,” Frederick said.

That was 20 years ago. Today he runs his own business, Precision Horseshoeing.
“I absolutely love my job. I feel like the luckiest man on the planet.”

What’s a common question you get about your work?

Doesn’t that hurt the horse when you’re nailing on a shoe? No. The nails go into a particular spot in the hoof. That area is called the white line. It doesn’t hurt the horse because there are no nerves in the white line.

How many farriers are there in Napa Valley?

I can think of five. But there are probably about 2,000 horses scattered throughout the valley.

How many horseshoes do you use in a month?

About 400.

Does a horse have to have a shoe?

I recommend a horse have shoes. If a rider is using their horse regularly and going over rocky terrain I highly recommend it being shod. There are some horses that have very good hoof quality that can manage recreational riding barefoot.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to become a farrier?

Find a good farrier school. It’s best to go get the foundation done.

Do you have a horseshoe hanging in your house and if so is it hanging up or down?

Yes we do and it has the heels up. You are holding the luck in.

And has it brought you good luck?

Absolutely. No question about it.

What do you charge for your services?

My rate right now is $165 for a saddle horse. That would be for four shoes. I recommend appointments every 6 to 7 weeks.

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

That my wife and I developed a new hypothesis about the cause of laminitis, a devastating disease, which is the second leading cause of death in horses. I was invited by Dr. Ric Redden to present our theory at the International Bluegrass Laminitis Symposium in Louisville, Kent., in January 2001.

What was your childhood ambition?

I was born and raised in South America. Both of my parents worked for the U.S. State Department, and our family was stationed in Brazil, Argentina, Equator and Venezuela. I spent my childhood riding my horses, Coralito and Pepe, in the Andes and accompanying my father on archeological digs. My earliest ambition was to be an archaeologist in the Andes.

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