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A Chance for Farriers to Give Back

How two Wisconsin farriers made a difference on a rural South Dakota Indian reservation

In 2010, two farriers journeyed from Wisconsin to South Dakota to take part in an exceptional volunteer opportunity. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, located in the southwest part of South Dakota, is the home to hundreds of wild horses with no professional caretakers. 

“I was asked by James Casserly, DVM, of Casserly Veterinary Services in Ixonia, Wis., if I would be interested in donating my time to help out the veterinarians and trim horses on the reservation,” says Todd Gillis of Todd Gillis Horseshoeing in Richfield, Wis.

“It didn’t take me too many days to decide. I have always wanted to do some volunteering and within my profession, and this seemed to be the perfect chance.

“This was one way I could give back a little and learn about wild horses.”

Gillis asked Mark Ellis of Ellis Horseshoeing in Butler, Wis., to make the trip with him. On July 23, 2010, the two men packed up Gillis’s truck and trailer with as many tools and supplies as possible, given that they did not know what they would encounter, and made their way to the reservation.

First Impressions

When they arrived, the landscape made a big first impression on them. Amongst the colorful rock formations and rolling hills of the 1.5 million acre reservation laid some less-than-picturesque conditions.

“It is a pretty rough place, especially given the poverty,” states Ellis. “Every little piece of property has broken down vehicles and chunks of the roof coming off. It depends on what part…

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Michelle Drewek

Michelle Drewek is the Digital Media Manager for American Farriers Journal. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in Journalism & Mass Communications, she joined the Lessiter Media team as an editorial intern in Spring 2011 before joining the staff full-time at the start of the new year.

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