When Lauren Mrozowski had her daughter Ava this spring, she had to deliver by Cesarean section because the baby was upside down.
“Probably because I spend my life upside down,” Mrozowski laughs.
With a book of about 150 horses, Mrozowski is believed to be the only Santa Barbara County, Calif., woman working as a full-service farrier in the county. Based at a ranch midway between Buellton and Lompoc, Mrozowski runs a mobile farrier business. Her clients live as far south as Topanga Canyon, in Los Angeles County and north to Santa Maria.
The profession came naturally to Mrozowski, although via a bit of a circuitous route. She started riding when she was just 1-year-old and her mother put her up on a pony.
As an adult, she worked as a trainer’s assistant, then had her own training business.
“That evolved into a full-scale rescue on my property in Colorado,” she says. “I had a farrier coming out at least once a week. I was helping them a lot and that got me interested.”
She became a certified veterinary nurse and was considering becoming a veterinarian when the farrier profession called to her again.
“I looked into shoeing schools because it combined everything I’m interested in.”
She attended Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School, followed it with an apprenticeship and opened her own business in 2011.
While growing in numbers, women farriers still are a rare breed. A 2014 American Farriers Journal Farrier Business Practices survey found only 6% of full-time farriers are female. Beth Daniels, executive director of the American Farrier’s Association, says the organization doesn’t even have a gender designation in its database.
“When it was set up, all the farriers were men and so was the association’s leadership, so there was no need,” Daniels says. “But now the number of women in the field is growing by leaps and bounds.”
Mrozowski says that she’s found other farriers — men and women — to be “overwhelmingly supportive” of her decision to work in such a male-dominated field. Winning over new customers is still sometimes a challenge, though.
“Potential clients aren’t used to seeing a woman in this role. Everybody has a picture in their mind, their assumptions on what a farrier should look like. A lot of horse owners are women. Some are disappointed that I’m not a cute guy in tight Wranglers,” she says without a hint of irony.
Sometimes, she feels she has an advantage with women owners.
“The communications aspect of my business are so important,” Mrozowski says. “Women are less hesitant to ask questions or have me explain things because they are comfortable with me. I love questions. I love to explain things. I would never treat a client like they’re stupid.”
Mrozowski is enthusiastic about encouraging other women to become farriers. She’s even giving a career day demonstration to a Girl Scout troop in Santa Barbara next month.
“I see this as a long-term profession,” she says. “I love what I do.”