Cindy Boutilier decided one day she needed a career change and traded in her business suits and shoes for a farrier apron and boots.
"I was an insurance broker for 10 years. I'd wake up dreading going to the office and when I was at work I'd be thinking, I need to be with my horse."
She admits to always wanting to be a farrier from a young age. But her son was small and she and her husband Cory both worked, so it never seemed to be the right time.
"I loved horses from the get go. I was riding when I was six, and I'd spend time at Sunrise Stables mucking the stalls and helping to clean up just to be around the horses."
After much discussion with family and friends, Boutilier applied and was accepted to the Oklahoma State Horseshoeing School where she recently graduated as a certified farrier.
"It certainly isn't your typical career choice. In fact, I believe I'm the only lady farrier in Cape Breton, and one of only a few in the province," she said. "Even when I hit Oklahoma, they weren't sure I knew what I was getting into. But I was, and once I made the move, there was no looking back."
Since returning from Oklahoma, Boutilier has been busy.
"I'm mobile, so I can go anywhere in the Maritimes I'm needed," she said. "Being a farrier, it's not for the faint of heart, you have to know what you are dealing with so it's important to get the proper training and to always keep learning."
She hopes to gradually build up her business.
"I can dress in heels as well as in my chaps to shoe horses. I'm a wife and a mother. I cook and do laundry and housework. But when it comes to a career, I'm doing what I love and I hope to keep doing it for as long as I can. I figure I have at least 20-plus years."