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Like many young farriers, Clint McCandless has a lot of backyard horses on his shoeing book. The Butler, Pa., farrier estimates that a little more than a third of the horses he shoes fall into the backyard category.
McCandless has been shoeing for around 7 years. He grew up around horses and started thinking about pursuing a career in farriery while he was in the U.S. Army. He rode with some experienced farriers, including James Houk, a farrier from Ellwood City, Pa., who McCandless describes as “the best I’ve ever seen at keeping horses sound and going the way they should.”
I spent part of a day with McCandless while he was shoeing backyard horses near his home, a little northwest of Pittsburgh. Here are some thoughts and observations that may be useful for novice farriers whose practices are likely to include many backyard horses.
Backyard horses are a diverse lot. McCandless took care of a variety of horses during the day that included three stops. He shod Quarter Horses, Standardbreds, crosses, minis and ponies. Some of the horses are ridden by their owners at horse shows, while others are used for trail riding and a few are your basic pasture ornaments.
A few are rescue horses, taken on by new owners after careers at racetracks or from abuse situations. One client had a number of senior, retired horses.