In 2009, American Farriers Journal joined six industry suppliers to create the Rising Shoeing Star award to be given out each year at the International Hoof-Care Summit. This award is presented to three farriers who have made incredible professional progress within 3 years of graduation from farrier school.

This year’s award co-sponsors include the Electric Hoof Knife, Hawthorne Products, Life Data Labs, Purcell Farrier Supply, R.J. Matthews Co. and Vettec.

Each winner received a plaque, a 1-year subscription to American Farriers Journal, the AFJ “Kitchen Sink” package (a practical footcare library with over 3,500 pages of reference material) and free registration to the Summit.

In addition, the first-place winner receives $1,000 and the two runners-up each receive $500. The schools that produced the three winners also receive plaques and copies of the Kitchen Sink package for use at their schools.

The farriers honored at this year’s Summit were Joanna Bailey of Buckley, Wash., Victor Frisco of Crestwood, Ky., and Eddie Cleckler of Springville, Ala.

Joanna Bailey


Rising Shoeing Star winner Joanna Bailey accepts her award from AFJ Editor/Publisher Frank Lessiter, right, at the 2016 International Hoof-Care Summit. Bailey is a graduate of the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School, owned by Bob Smith, left.

Joanna Bailey is a graduate of Bob Smith’s Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School (PCHS) in Plymouth, Calif.

“I chose Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School based on the recommendations of top farriers in my area who graduated from the program,” Bailey says.

“These recommendations were reinforced by the program’s curriculum, which I reviewed on the PCHS website before applying. I knew exactly what kind of education I would get even before starting the program.

“I also looked up Bob Smith and all his credentials. I think a ‘been there, done that’ kind of teacher can best relate to his students. I also was really impressed that all of the instructors are farriers who do some amazing work.”

Bailey wanted a farrier school program that focused on classroom and forging time instead of just getting under a lot of horses. She wanted to learn the theories first.

“I didn’t just want to know what to do, I wanted to know why I was doing it. I cannot put into words how happy I am about my decision to have chosen this school,” she says.

“My education did not just stop after the 8-week program. Three years later, I can stop by the school and attend lectures and field trips. I can call about any question I have in my daily shoeing business and have asked Bob’s input more than once. He has always answered and helped me when needed.”

Bailey, who is originally from Germany, says that coming from a different country and culture was one of the biggest obstacles she had to overcome.

“As a German, I tend to be very direct and honest, which sometimes comes off as too blunt. Some people were offended because they perceived me as being rude,” she says.

“After some bad experiences, I became self-conscious around clients and often would keep my real thoughts and concerns to myself. This didn’t sit right with me, so I started cautioning my clients of my very direct style while also pointing out that my interest is always, first and foremost, the well-being of their horse. Being honest and direct worked and my clients really appreciate it. They know they will get my real opinion and not a sugar-coated version.”

Bailey’s advice to new farriers is to never stop asking questions.

“The moment we think we know enough to get by, we stop learning,” she says. “The only dumb questions are the ones we never asked.”

Bailey suggests new farriers ride with as many different farriers and veterinarians as possible. Everyone can teach you something new and different, she says.

Bailey believes that good things take patience, time and hard work and all will be worth it in the end.

“Nobody is perfect and perfection in any profession is impossible. Perfection is not the goal. It’s about the journey. Enjoy the journey of becoming a good farrier.”

Victor Frisco


Kentucky Horseshoeing School graduate Victor Frisco receives his Rising Shoeing Star Award from AFJ Editor/Publisher Frank Lessiter.

Victor Frisco is a 2012 graduate of the Kentucky Horseshoeing School (KHS) in Richmond, Ky. At KHS, he enrolled in a 21-month course that included 9 months of classroom and practical experience followed by a 12-month structured apprenticeship.

“I chose KHS because I wanted to be a well-rounded farrier — acquiring skills in the fire, on the horse and in the classroom,” Frisco explains. “KHS offers all of those things, along with providing the longest training curriculum out of all the schools I looked into. In hindsight, it was without a doubt the right choice for me.”

Immediately following his 9-month course, Frisco took the American Farrier’s Association (AFA) Journeyman exam — passing all facets on his first attempt.

After completing his 12-month apprenticeship, Frisco returned to KHS to take the National Farrier Training Program (NFTP) exit exams. These exams take place over 2 days and are proctored by a panel of three examiners: one KHS instructor, one AFA Certified Journeyman Farrier and a veterinarian who specializes in equine podiatry. Frisco passed all components of these exams and is one of only three NFTP students to do so.

Frisco is an avid horseshoeing competitor, winning the Kerckhart-Liberty Intermediate Division in 2014 at the AFA national convention. He was selected by the AFA to participate in their cultural exchange program and was named a member of their National Horseshoeing Team, competing at the 2015 Calgary World Championship farrier competition.

Despite his successes, Frisco says that some people don’t trust his ability to do quality work because of his age.

“Many treat me like it’s my first day as an apprentice,” he says. “I still struggle with that, but I need to be patient and let my work speak for itself. Eventually it will turn the corner.”

Frisco advises other farriers just starting out to find someone solid and established to apprentice under for a few years.

“Keep your head down and develop your skills,” he says. “This job takes years of apprenticing and experience before you’re ready to go out on your own. Some may think it’s a long time to wait, but it will pay off down the road.”

Eddie Cleckler

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Eddie Cleckler, left, accepts his Rising Shoeing Star award from Frank Lessiter. Lookout Mountain School of Horseshoeing owner Lane McNew, right, receives a plaque for his school.

Eddie Cleckler had been working as a finish carpenter, supplementing his income by training horses and teaching riding lessons. In 2012, he enrolled at the Lookout Mountain School of Horseshoeing in Gadsden, Ala.

“Eddie had a positive attitude and was a good horseman before attending school, both of which are helpful. In addition, he worked doing crown molding and trim work, which requires attention to detail — just like horseshoeing,” says Lane McNew, owner of Lookout Mountain School of Horseshoeing.

Nominate A Rising Shoeing Star 

To nominate a farrier who graduated from a footcare school in 2013, please send a letter explaining why he or she is a candidate for next year’s Rising Shoeing Star program.

The deadline for nominations is July 31, 2016. Mail your nomination to American Farriers Journal, P.O. Box 624, Brookfield, WI 53008-0624, or email it to Amy Johnson at

After graduation, Cleckler overcame the challenge many young farriers face — having the needed capital to purchase equipment and tools. According to McNew, Cleckler traded a pistol for his first set of tools, traded farrier work for a truck box and borrowed an anvil.

“Cleckler took every opportunity he had to apprentice with other farriers and never turned down a horse when a potential client called,” McNew continues. “He is dedicated to performing quality work for his clients, is honest and reliable.”

In addition to maintaining a full client book, Cleckler continues to further his education through clinics, independent study and working with veteran farriers.


March 2016 Issue Contents