Horseshoes traditionally mean good luck, but not always for the people who work with them. Nervous animals weighing upward of 1,000 pounds can easily cause broken bones, cracked ribs or muscle injuries.
But Eduardo Beltran, 28, who owns a mobile horseshoeing business called Gold Buckle Farrier Service, has never suffered a serious injury on the job.
“You can read horses’ bodies when they’re about to kick,” Beltran said. “I think I’ve had more injuries from being on top of them than from ever working under them.”
In case people think he’s too young to have suffered many injuries, consider this: Beltran rode his first horse at 2, helped his father shoe horses at 10 and became a professional farrier at 18.
By 23 he had completed coursework to become a certified journeyman farrier by the American Farrier’s Association. He studied at Five Star Horseshoeing School in Oklahoma, but said most of his knowledge came from working in Houston's stables.
“It’s a dying art and it’s getting harder and harder for people to find knowledgeable farriers,” Beltran said. “There are a lot of guys coming out of trade schools now, but they aren’t equipped to do the job day in and day out because they’ve never been around horses much.”
Horses usually require shoeing every six to eight weeks. It takes Beltran one to two hours to shoe a horse for a price of $120.
In addition to shoeing horses, Beltran treats infections and other hoof diseases. He said 30 percent of his time involves performing what he calls "therapeutic interventions."
“We’re usually the first person who gets called out when a horse goes lame, even before an exam by a vet,” Beltran said. “Our job is to come in and correct the problem, or at least make the horse comfortable.”
Beltran works with some 200 horses in the Houston area.
“Lots of people in this industry aren’t reliable, and that's what makes Eduardo different,” said Diana Caswell, who owns True Blue Acres in Sugar Land and oversees 27 horses. “I’ve met a lot of farriers in my time, and I can tell that he genuinely likes working with horses and their owners.”