PEOPLE OF LA SAL
Nate has lived in La Sal for 8 years.
When he is not at work and not hunting coyotes you can usually find him spending time with his family or shoeing a horse.
He started watching local farriers shoe his family’s horses when he was eight years old. He mentions a few by name, such as Eric Grover and Richard Reddshaw, that he says did excellent work and that he learned a lot from watching them over the years. Nate and his dad watched and learned together, and his dad eventually bought some horse shoeing tools of his own because as we all know it is cheaper to do things yourself. Nate borrowed those tools and made his first attempt at shoeing his own horse when he was fourteen years old.
It went relatively well without any mishaps, however it took him almost three hours to shoe one hoof. So he did one hoof a day for four days. Mission accomplished. It may have taken him a while to do all four but he saved a lot of money by doing it himself. That is why he started shoeing horses in the first place. His friends started asking him if he would shoe their horses too. So he did, which gave him plenty of practice.
Nate continued to shoe horses on a regular basis and he gradually got better. He says he learned a lot by trial and error. That there is so much more to it than what he thought. It looked easy when he watched others do it: just trim the hoof and nail on a shoe. But there is so much more to it than that. Trimming the hoof must be done with precision so as not to go too deep and hit a blood vessel, you have to know what to look for. And the hoof must then be filed flat and level all the way across so the shoe fits properly and so that it doesn’t make the horse walk lopsided. The nails must go in a certain way, too. Otherwise they could hurt the foot or the shoe could fall off. These are just some of the variables that go into shoeing a horse so as not to lame the horse. It takes skill and competence to be able to do it properly. Nate learned from his mistakes and was willing to listen to suggestions from other farriers and he soon became a good farrier.
But he wanted to be better. So, in 2008, he enrolled in a five-day horseshoeing class, taught by certified farriers Scott McKendrick and Chancy McKendrick, from Utah State University at the Blanding extension office. Nate learned many new techniques and tactics that refined his skill and proficiency. Today he can properly shoe all four hooves in about thirty minutes.When asked if he’s ever been hurt by a horse while shoeing Nate says the worst that has happened to him happened in his front yard when he was sixteen years old. After nailing the shoe on he didn’t bend the ends of the nails down because he was in a hurry and figured he would get back to them after quickly doing something else to the hoof. But the horse decided she wanted to put her foot down. The nails that were sticking out of her hoof tore Nate’s leg open from his knee to almost his ankle. He was lucky, though, because some farriers have had their femoral arteries ripped opened by a similar incident. For a long time after that Nate hated to do the back feet, but with time and practice he learned ways to do it safely and he makes sure he cuts the nails off immediately after nailing them in.
Nate says the biggest headache about shoeing a horse is when they don’t want to hold still, but he has learned a tactic to solve that problem. As soon as the horse starts to get squirmy he will immediately walk them around and put them to work. Soon he will try shoeing again. If the horse gets impatient still he will stop and make them walk and work again. The horse soon realizes that when it’s time to get back to shoeing then they can rest. And so they hold still for Nate.
Nate says the greatest thing about shoeing horses is being able to see the shoes he’s put on horse’s feet stay on good and tight for a long duration. That’s what makes a good farrier. That and not laming the horse. It is important for the horse’s feet to be protected properly so the horse can function well and serve its purpose.
Nate doesn’t shoe horses for a living, he does it mainly for his own horses in order to save money, but word got around that he is good and now he has three major clients that he serves, plus a few extra here and there. He shoes a few dozen horses on a regular basis and says the extra income is kind of nice.
Nate won’t tell you outright that he is a good farrier. But he will admit that he is reliable and can shoe a horse without causing problems to the horse. And his shoes stay on. That makes him a good farrier.
Read about Nate’s father-in-law’s story here, Shane Deeter.