Bob Gushwa’s moves involving hammer, anvil, forge and red-hot horseshoe seem purposeful but startlingly quick to the untrained eye.
He’s not the only blacksmith and farrier in southwest Idaho, but he’s probably one of the happiest. Like many people who discovered and pursued a passion as an adult, the homebuilder-turned-horseshoer’s enthusiasm is contagious.
“I always get all black and nasty in this fire,” Gushwa said as he moved a reconfigured bar of tool steel amid the flame and spark of the hot forge. Despite the blackness the craft can create, the shop on his property near Caldwell is immaculate.
“It’s not an exact-timing thing. It’s just that you’ve got to have a feel for it,” he said. His grab-and-stir maneuver in a very hot area of the forge looks something like that of a barbecue master, but with a possibly more dangerous outcome.
“You can easily burn a shoe up” in the forge, Gushwa said. “You don’t want to open it up and see any sparks flying out.”