By Jessica Crabtree
Few people will know the clicking and clanking sound that comes from the anvil of a farrier. In ancient documents it was found that the earliest of hoof protection was primitive shoes made of hide and woven plants. In the first century, people began to realize the animals that were counted on for heavy farming and travel needed protection for their feet to maximize their use. Sometime after, shod hooves traversed the roadways set down by ancient Romans. To protect their valuable steeds, the riders outfitted their horses with coverings inspired by the sandals strapped to their own feet. These leather and metal “hipposandals” fitted over horses’ hooves and fastened with leather straps. In Europe around 1000 A.D., horses’ hooves were fitted with a cast from bronze. These shoes were lightweight, scalloped along the outer rim with six nail holes. Every century since, the horse shoe has evolved and still to this day is a debatable topic and ever-growing industry.
The horseshoeing industry has long-time been a male dominated world. Why? For the long hours, backbreaking work in grueling conditions? Possibly, or the fact you are dealing with thousand pound animals with minds of their own. In an American Profile article from 2011, Eric Nygaard, then president of the American Farrier’s Association, based in Lexington, Ky., said, “Men outnumber women more than tenfold in the physically demanding horseshoeing trade.”
Today the paradigm is shifting and female farriers are more common. Born in Arizona, raised between California and Utah, Nichole (Nikki) Smith made her way to the Lone Star state at the age of 16. From a young age, Smith can remember always having a passion for horses. To read more pick up the February 2016 issue of NTFR.