Shiny New Shoers

Graduates of the Minnesota School of Horseshoeing can be forgiven if they think that nailing on a keg shoe is a form of animal abuse

After all, they’ve just spent 10 weeks under the tutelage of Richard Duggan, American Farrier’s Association Certified Journeyman Farrier and, with his wife, Nancy, owner of the Ramsey, Minn., school. And to say Richard Duggan is a zealot for the use of hand-forged horseshoes is an understatement.

“If there’s one thing you learn from Richard, it’s that keg shoers are going to hell,” says Dawn Nelson, a member of the class during a get together the night before they graduate. “If you use keg shoes and modify them, you’ll have to spend some time in purgatory, but people who use handmades are going straight to heaven.”

Other members of the class laugh at comments from the young woman from Eden Prairie, Minn., but they’re also nodding. After all, they’ve been studying at the feet of one of the foremost proponents of the art of the anvil at this unassuming blue-paneled building, a short distance north of the Twin Cities.

Forge-Based Program

Duggan stresses forging as the basis of his program. His shop is well equipped with coal-powered forges and work stations, where students spend long hours learning the basics of shoemaking and how to use the forging tools of the farrier’s trade. Students are also introduced to gas-powered forges during their time at the school.

“Forging is the essence of horseshoeing,” Duggan told the students on the first day of the class. “If you can’t do this, you can’t balance horses.”

Not that Duggan claims his school is turning out…

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Pat tearney

Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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