Jan Mills has spent her life working with horses. Now, she travels around Fairbanks, Alaska, caring for horses’ feet and teaching owners to ride them.
Before Mills started Fairbanks Mobile Horse in 2010, she boarded as many as 45 horses at Two Rivers Stables. She moved to Florida to work and train with a British master farrier and started the business upon her return.
Mills learned farriery from her father, who learned it from his father. But she stays away from the iron shoes that they would have been known for.
“The natural trim is what’s really taking off now,” Mills told News Miner. “I can correct pretty much any problem, even without shoes on.”
One of her biggest challenges arises when clients trim their horses themselves, or go a year without trimming. Then she gets a call.
“They don’t understand how to balance the foot correctly,” she says.
In addition to hoof-care, Mills gives riding lessons on working with difficult horses and safe trail riding. But she only works with horses part-time — she also drives a bus for the Metropolitan Area Commuter System and runs a bed and breakfast.
Mills has broken bones and had a knee replaced because of her work with horses. But she won’t quit.
“My vacation is going out trimming horses,” says Mills.
And her services are needed. “There used to be, and still is, in the Interior, a lot more horses than people realize.”