Remember those old westerns where a crusty blacksmith hammered out horseshoes? That still happens today, but around here most horses don't need shoes.
But their hooves still need plenty of care from workers called farriers.. as I found out in the latest "Art, Do My Job!"
So what's a farrier, anyway? Well, think of it as a blacksmith with a master's degree in horse feet! Billy Blackman, a farrier in Jefferson County, says a farrier needs three core qualities:
"The strength of Samson, the wisdom of Solomon, and the patience of Job."
Billy's patience would be tested today, not by the horse, but by me as I tried to learn his trade.
It was time to strap on my first pair of chaps.
"You're ready to go - you look the part," said Billy.
I might have looked the part, but Billy lives it. He makes sure 300 horses from Georgia to the Gulf have happy hooves, and it's obvious Billy has lots of respect for these animals.
"These horses, when you walk up to 'em, they'll probably know more about you than you know about yourself," Billy said.
But we did bring them a snack to make sure they were cooperative-- what Billy jokingly calls "a horse drug."
Maverick is Billy's horse; a friendly western mustang that needs his hooves trimmed and balanced.
How do you get a half-ton animal to lift it's foot, anyway?
I repeated Billy's advice: "pull on the tendon a little bit and he pops it up."
But it's the farrier's exhausting job to hold it up, clamped between the knees as he works on the hoof.