Mention horseshoeing in the Miami, Okla., area and one name comes up, Rocky LaFalier.
The Bartlett, Kan., farrier has been shoeing and trimming horses hooves since he took a class at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M more than 35 years ago.
Before that he worked for country legend Roy Clark caring for horses on his breeding farm.
“Rocky is so good to us here at the school, he actually does all of our equestrian horses' feet,” says NEO A&M Equestrian Team Coach Amanda Burrows.
The NEO A&M's Equestrian Academy participants were treated to a demonstration and talk from LaFalier before riding horses recently.
“Anyone who owns a horse needs to know about the care of their feet and having a good healthy footed horse,” LaFalier says.
He first gave a talk on the history of horseshoeing and how it influences how he charges clients for his services.
“Being a full time horseshoer I never knew what to ask for my work, but I came across a part in a book that said the rule of thumb at the turn of the century was if a haircut was 25 cents then a blacksmith at the livery stable was to get $2,” LaFalier says. “So, now days if I can find a barber for $10 I'm supposed to be charging $80 and trimming is supposed to be about a third.”
He showed the class how he trims hooves using one of the NEO horses.
The continuous wet weather over this summer has been hard on horses in the area causing hoof problems.
“This summer was one of the worst years for horses. Every horseshoer I've talked to has seen more abscesses and total bottoms of their feet come out, and I had a customer who had a horse we could pull down on the back of the foot and see it moving,” LaFalier says.
His customers range from rodeo, equestrian show competitors, to a customer with 24 small ponies.
“Everybody's horse is special to me,” LaFalier says. “I want to do whatever is best for the horse and fits that customer. What made me a better horseshoer is I knew how to ride before I ever worked one, I knew how to rope and how to ride.”