Category Archives: Horse Hoof — Farrier

As a pilot I discovered: “Hooves are the wings on which horses fly”. . . Making the hooves the very foundation of an enjoyable relationship with the horse. I’m a 2nd Generation Farrier and HoofCare Provide — so this is a topic near to my heart. Fly, hooves, fly!

~ Romancing Red ~

How do we, as a farriers, work with an unruly horse — one not bad enough to tranquilize, yet not good enough to relax and enjoy?

Until recently, Red, a round-bodied chestnut Quarter Horse, was such a problem.

Living the leisurely life turned out on a large acreage, used only sporadically due to his owner’s time restraints, Red enjoys the lifestyle so many stabled horses long for.

I’d been working with him for only about six or eight months. He’d been fine to trim, great with his hinds, but awful for nailing his fronts!

(And, with thin soles and rocky high-desert terrain, Red needs front shoes to keep sound.)

As soon as my hammer takes to nails, Red yanks and pulls his limb like a large-scale earthquake, worse on the right side.

That’s when I ask Red’s strong cowboy-owner to stand in front of his knee, hold his leg, and push with great might against Red’s protests, so I can get the nails in. (And he’s not quicked, as he’s sound afterwards and throughout the shoeing cycle.)

I’m sure Red has cultivated these less-than-hilarious behaviors with previous farriers throughout his career.

(Since I have no pictures of Red, other chestnut horses in my personal photo archive will have to do :)) DawnHoof


Social Distancing

So when Coronavirus mandated “social distancing”, and the fact that Red’s owner is in the emergency health services field — and was therefore forbidden to stand near another human — I got to face off with Red a couple shoeings ago, all by myself.

“I’m not sure I can nail him,” I told his owner. “If I can’t get him nailed, I’ll have to leave him barefoot.”

“He does better in shoes. I hope you can get them on!” Red’s owner said. “Just do the best you can.”

“Would you mind if I treat him like he’s one of my own horses? Do I have your permission to work with Red’s behavior?”

“You sure do!” he said, keeping his distance, hopping in his truck, and driving away.

Leaving me alone with Red, for the first time ever — just the two of us — to work it out on our own.


Enter ~ Romancing Red ~

Wonderfully enough, I’d just been working on my post, Romancing the Hoof, so all my new “courtship” and “wooing” strategies were fresh at hand.

Primed to “love-Red-up” with cookies and rubs and schmoozing, I determined to treat him like he was one of my own horses. With love and firmness, I’d see how far we could get.

Before starting in, I scratched Red’s neck and whispered soft coos, broke off bits of yummy cookies (The German Horse Muffin, otherwise known as “Horse Crack”), and gave him some delicious bites.

Licking, dropping his head, Red showed all the signs of a happy horse at rest with his herd. That’s what I wanted, “happy-herdship” behavior, rather than displaying “fight-or-flight”.

I started by trimming his hind end, holding his hooves low, using the crook of my foot and the closeness of my stance to support hoof and limb, creating the lowest possible “human hoof stand”. (Horses love this!)

Red responded well. Happy. Relaxed. Agreeable.

I took several breaks, scratching his bum, “Good boy, Red . . .”

Magical Molokai Mount

Right Fore

Finished with the hinds, I decided to do one front hoof at a time, and to start with his more difficult, right fore.

Pulling the shoe — no problem. I rewarded Red with cookies and cooing, “Good boy, Red! Such a good boy!”

Since I knew his difficulty was nailing, and I wasn’t sure if I could get him to cooperate, I took my hammer to his untrimmed bare hoof, and began to very gently tap . . . Red fired into action!

Whap! Pull! Snatch! Red was back into his old fight-or-flight habits.

Immediately I got out from under him, snorted my most demanding “mare snort”, and leapt into aggressive human/horse body-language behavior.

Hissing, snorting, baring my teeth, as my own dominant mare would have done to reprimand an upstart — Red knew that I was less than pleased.

He took a step back, looking peeved.

Then I switched my body language, softening, taking a deep breath — letting it out, blowing my lips to mimic how horses communicate: “It’s all OK . . .”

I asked him to move up, cooing and rubbing, working his endorphin (feel-good hormone) response, until his head lowered and he licked (physical signs of horsey submission).

Back underneath, tapping with my hammer, he jerked again, and we repeated the process a time or two.

Aria Shoes Pinos

‘Ol Red is One Smart ‘Bugga!

Red soon realized he’d rather choose cookies and praises, and make the “mare” (me!) happy — than suffer her snorts and snarls.

“Hurray! Good boy, Red. What a wonderful boy!”

Now I trimmed up the hoof, shaped the shoe, and nailed it on with little incident, generously praising and offering bites of cookies.

Yahoo! Nails in, blocked — now ready for clinching.

Aria Laughing

Extending Red’s hoof onto my stand for rasping and clinching is another behavior he detests — snapping his leg back, turning my stand into an implement of war, aiming at my shins, as if ‘Ol Red is plotting to have the last laugh.

More “mare snorts” and dominant behavior from me, this time just once, changed clinching from terror to do-able.

Hurray! Red was defiantly starting to catch on.

Nails clinched, hoof finished, I gave him more cookies and coos, and started in on the left fore.

Riding on Molokai

Left Fore ~

Pull shoe, no problem.

Tap bare hoof gently with hammer — Whap! Pull! Snatch! Again, Red worked hard to snap his leg away from me.

(This repeat of behavior is to be expected on the opposite foot, as a horse’s brain must learn on both sides for a lesson to get through to the separate-brain-lobe horse physiology.)

Again, my good snort and mare-ish hiss ended all that. In a short time, Lovely Red was wearing two new front shoes :))


Dancing Horse

Fini :))

To his owner’s delight, Red was happy, sound, shod.

To my delight, I fell head-over-heels in love with Red, schmoozing and fluffing and flattering him, and feeling his reciprocal energy flowing my way.

Now I know, Red and I can work it out.

Next shoeing, I only had to reinforce his behavior a time or two. And the shoeings after that, he’s stood perfectly and happily for me.

Hallelujah Red!

You’re proof that something good can come out of Covid. The virus might be separating us humans, but it united me deeply with Red :))



Copyright 2020

Photos: Dawn Jenkins; “Aria Laughing” photo by Z. Schultz (since I have no pictures of Red,  other chestnut horses in my personal photo archive will have to do :))

View of Little Dume Beach

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn, for Strategies and Insights into the Journey of Life


Forest Shadow Fae

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a   Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283



October 21, 2020 · 10:58 pm

Romancing the Hoof :))

“Let’s be honest! Things change . . . as we age.”  DawnHoof

HoofCare. Farriery. Working with Horses. Reflections on Aging!

In my younger years, Horse and Hoof work was my burning passion. My craving. Focusing all my attention on overcoming the obstacles to learning, building my strength, mastering my skill-set — leading to great joy and satisfaction :))

As I age, though, I’ve noticed these tasks can take on a negative tone. Not because I don’t like them — I still love horses, or I would never have made them my profession.

And I still love what I do.

But over the decades, my body grows weary. (I’m now in my 30th-farrier-year!)

A big shoe-job or long work day sounds daunting — and calls up images of overexertion and pain.

Thumbelina hoof

Yet, being a good professional, I trudge on . . . Injuries. Arthritis. Pulled muscles. Sprains. Broken bones. No matter, keep going!

Every horseman or horsewoman experiences these — we can’t let such trifles stop us! (Not us, we’re tough!)

Yet, if we continue into our Golden Years with a Career with Horses, we need a fresh, more whimsical attitude and approach to overcome the physical and mental blocks that restrict us.

Working slower, smarter, and happier than before.

Frilly Horse

Enter: Romancing The Hoof!

“What if I shift my perspective from going to work — to going to love?”  DawnHoof

So, in searching to motivate myself a few months back, I wondered:

  • How can I change what I think about my work, and the way I go about things?
  • Can I transform my physically challenging Horse and Hoof work from feeling like drudgery — to light, easy and fun, like when I was younger???
  • Can I shift my attitude from work to love?
  • Like in a romantic relationship, how can I fall deeper in love again?
The Jetsons

Are we having fun yet?

Solutions —

So I asked myself, What if I were to . . .

  • “Romance” the horse, the hoof, the whole situation. (Like the movie, Romancing the Stone — lyrics and Youtube link below to the song, by Eddie Grant.)
  • Prioritize the time I spend working to see the best in every hoof, every horse.
  • Treat my work like I’m going out on a date :))


good vibrations :))

rainbow hoof, Hawaii

  • See the horse, and my work, with new eyes.
  • Know that right now, this horse is the most important “person” in my life.



Naje with Leaf Shadows

  • Spend a little more time greeting, connecting — not just asking for a foot, and starting in.
  • (I’ve always done a rendition of this, but I decided I could go deeper, and up my game.)

Strategies for Deeper Horse Connections:

slow down
really connect
open my body and heart
feel our breathing sync . . .
feel the horse relax
:)) have fun!!!

Carousel Horses

  • Treat the horse in the same way I want my sweetheart to spend a little more time, pay a little more attentionto me, during our special time together :))



Aria with Light Orbs

Mental Upgrade

  • This requires ditching the old connotation of work, sweat, effort.
  • Erasing images of struggle, suffering, exhaustion.
  • Overcoming feelings like strenuous, difficult, hard.



Carousel Horses

  • Anticipate the same feelings as if I were going to meet my own true-horse-love.
  • (For in a sense, every horse I work with, I serve, is my own horse during those moments — for we are expressing and creating our own relationship, together.)
  • And like with my horses, I can make our relationship a good one! A closer one :))



  • Offer bits of treats and spend extra moments connecting throughout the trim or shoe job.
  • Look for relaxed horse body-language signals — licks, breath, lowered head, soft eye — (indicating that the horse has let me into her heart space as one of the herd :))
  • Treat each horse as if she were my deepest love, giving extra “thank you’s” between hooves — rubbing, stroking, cooing, breathing — connecting.

Lad in Light

It works :))

I’m happy to report, Romancing the Hoof has worked for the horses, their humans, and me!

  • I’m happier and more refreshed with my work :))
  • As the majority of horses I work on improve in comfort, hoof form, and behavior the longer I’ve worked with them, I’m getting even better client reviews now from my upgraded strategies and attitude shift.
  • I’m actually looking forward to a big day of work, rather than dreading it :))

Dancing Horse

  • I’m more relaxed, too.
  • And I’m having more fun :))

Children's Horse Art


The little-horse-girl in me is smiling again :))

“Romancing the Hoof and the Horse, make the whole experience of work so much more fun” :))   DawnHoof

Who said an old Farrier can’t learn a new trick?

So if you find yourself in a farrier funk, brainstorm the little ways you, too, can begin to Romance the Hoof :))

Dillingham Sunset

Life is a Journey

Lyrics: Romancing the Stone

Artist: Eddy Grant (Album: Going for Broke)

I’m romancing the stone
Never leaving your poor heart alone
Every night and every day
Gonna love the hurting away

I’m romancing the stone
Never leaving your poor heart alone
Every night and every day
Gonna love the heartache away

Tonight, tonight I’m falling where the peaceful waters flow
Where the unicorn’s the last one at the water hole
I have found a love so precious like an emerald so bold
It’s a firelight escaping from the jeweller’s hold

I’m romancing the stone
Never leaving your poor heart alone
Every night and every day
Gonna love the hurting away

I’m romancing the stone
Never leaving your poor heart alone
Every night and every day
Gonna love the heartache away

Oh and in the heat of rapture when I feel the cold winds blow
Through the broken glass I’ll see at last the sweet desire in you
I will climb up on my pulpit and I’ll preach a sermon you
On the mountain roads in Harlem feel my jeweller’s hold

I’m romancing the stone
Never leaving your poor heart alone
Every night and every day
Gonna love the hurting away

I’m romancing the stone
Never leaving your poor heart alone
Every night and every day
Gonna love the heartache away


Fall Glory


Copyright 2020

Photos: Dawn Jenkins; Jetsons photo: Hanna-Barbera

Ella at Fuji's

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn ,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life


View from McGill trail

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283








June 15, 2020 · 5:13 pm

Evaluating Your Horse’s Shoeing

“The more you, as a horse owner, know about how hooves function, what to look for, and how to talk about your horse’s hooves, the more effective you will be in evaluating and caring for the foundation of your horse’s athletic abilities.”  DawnHoof

Evaluating your horse’s shoeing presents one of the ongoing difficulties horse owners face.

Oftentimes an owner senses that “something is wrong with the shoes” but cannot put a finger on the proper verbiage. Talking with the farrier or even the vet can be frustrating and make an owner feel less sure of her instincts.

“One thing I can say for sure. No matter where you live and ride, there are a lot of horseowners frustrated with their horse’s hoofcare!”   DawnHoof

Shoeing horses involves more than applying a shoe to a hoof and keeping it there. The feet are the foundation, the platform of your horse’s longevity and athletics.

Lad's New Shoes

If the foundation is off, the movement is off. The performance is off, and the horse is off — however subtly.

We want our horse’s movement supple, connected, and with impulsion.

But more and more she moves heavily, reluctantly, stabbing at the ground. We try changing saddles, bit, bridle, teeth floats, supplementation, body work, injections – to little or no avail.

Instead of coming home with a smile on our face, more and more we suffer discouragement.

Shutterstock Image

Shutterstock Image

It turns out farriers are taught all kinds of nifty metal-working skills, but seem reluctant to learn to recognize and deal with subtle lameness issues. This kind of stuff takes more time, more education, more attention . . . and most farriers are pretty busy.

And subtle lameness issues, especially involving the hind-end – the horse’s motor – migrate forward over time into full-blown lameness issues in the fronts.

Thus, what might have been prevented early on, becomes a career-ending catastrophe.

Myself a life-long horseperson, (I’ve bred and raised four generations of Arab-crosses, and have a rugged endurance, carriage and trail-riding background :)) — I like to say: “I’m ‘one of us’ [horsegirls] who infiltrated the farrier’s world.”

My hoofwork started in 1990 with my farrier Uncle, Ink Knudson, who taught me to trim (and eventually shoe) my own horses, with an emphasis on therapeutics — and it’s grown from there.

Over the past thirty years, I’ve studied with the best: Gene Ovnicek (Natural Balance), Doug Butler, Myron McLane, Dr. Ric Redden, Dr. Chris Pollitt, Dr. Barbara Page, Dr. Robert Bowker, Pete Ramey, Epona Tech, and many, many others, as well as working side-by-side, (think x-ray-by-x-ray!), with my local and very talented veterinarians.

I’ve covered farrier and veterinary events as a journalist, and have been privileged to have several of my writings published in horse and farrier periodicals. (Anvil Magazine, American Farriers Journal, Professional Farrier, Holistic Horse.)

Even more, I’ve learned from the horses themselves.

Fae and Tessy

Working as a farrier and barefoot trimmer in both California and Hawaii, and traveling between the two regions every shoeing cycle for fourteen years, I am privileged to have worked on performance, pasture and backyard horses in various environmental settings.

One thing I can say for sure. No matter where you live and ride, there are a lot of horseowners frustrated with their horse’s hoofcare!

The more you, as a horseowner, know about how hooves function, what to look for, and how to talk about your horse’s hooves — the more effective you will be in evaluating and caring for the foundation of your horse’s athletic abilities.

It is my pleasure to share some of my knowledge about hoofcare with you!

  • Call for a consult:  (661) 703-6283
  • Schedule to have me out to train you to trim or shoe your own
  • Learn how to better communicate your horse’s hoof concerns with your vet or farrier.

Shadow Shoeing

Dawn Jenkins, Lady Farrier (aka DawnHoof)

Frazier Park, California

(661) 703-6283


Copyright 2020

Photos: Dawn Jenkins; Zebra image, Shutterstock


Disneyland Rides!

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn ,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life


Fae on the trail

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283




February 26, 2020 · 11:12 am

Watching The Woman . . . Work

I watch her. A lot.

She’s very impressive.

Strong. Super-human!

She works through heat. Rain. Snow.

She works with her body. Physically. In labors usually done by a man.

But she’s found a way to coax her female body to endure. Invent new ways. Overcome obstacles . . .

I think I can!!!

She does her best, always.

I learn from her.

She runs late. She works late. But she gives it her all . . .


She talks to strangers, all the time.

At the market. Post Office. Bank.

Small talk. Smiles. Little quips. Corny jokes.

She makes “friends”, at least she tries . . . she hands out her little cards . . . yet they seldom call.

She smiles and waves at bored little kids in the back seat of cars. (She remembers being bored, in the back seat of a car . . . )

Even her little beanie-monkey, Louie, waves and makes a bus full of camp kids laugh. (I’m sure they still remember :))

Hen and chicks in rain


She has a weird brain. Wired backwards, it would seem.

Spatially challenged — her messy car and cluttered world, her own personal haven. Damn the rules — creativity abound!

(All tidy and picked up, she feels lost . . . empty.)

She keeps her chin up. She talks herself up to the task in front of her. No matter how hard. How tired.

Some people love her. Others think she’s a kook :))

She’s a stranger in a strange land, for sure.

But over the years, I’ve come to respect her. Love her.

Trust her. Depend on her.

Dawn on Molokai :))

She does her best. Even when she blows it. Even when she fails.

She gets back up. Dusts off her knee. Tries, tries again.

She’s learning to curtail her anger.

She’s learning to curb her tongue.

She’s learning to appreciate and enjoy all that Life dishes her . . .



She works hard. Physical.

She’s really, really good at what she does.

She puts her body at risk every time she works: Smashed feet; aching hands; kicked in the head; broken wrist . . .

But she heals. She learns. She carries on.

She puts a rogue horse (or horse owner) in its place with a snap, a snort, a big, loud posture.

She gets them to lick, to submit . . . and handles thousand-pound creatures like puppy dogs.

Lifts their hooves, supports their bodies, calms their distracted minds . . .

(A passer-by wouldn’t know how difficult her job!)

She sculpts. Rasps. Trims.

Sweats, shivers — yet persists.

Creates living, breathing artwork.

Mechanical magic.

Shock Tamer Pads -- Fae

She hammers steel.

Sews horseshoes onto hooves — with nails.

Hefts anvils and tools and heavy boxes of equipment . . . yet carries her own tiny broom set to sweep and clean as she goes . . .

(There’s order in her seeming chaos :))

Work Tools

Horse whisperer. Farrier. Wrangler. Business woman. Creative kook . . .

She is my favorite. She is my love.

She watches over me. I watch over her.

She works hard! And I appreciate her!!!!


I watch her age. I watch her grow.

I watch her appreciate Life more, even more, now . . .

We have come to a truce.

I no longer bash her.

I now support her.

Without her, I would be nowhere.

Because, she is me . . . Dawn.

Woman of steel!!!

Golden Rays

And so I ask, who do you watch?

What work does your woman, or man, do?

Have you two come to a truce? Or do you still argue?

I hope you two can fall in love :))

Life is too short to argue with your Worker . . .

Make peace, not war. And let it start with you, and me :))

Heart Horses


Find out more about Dawn’s HoofCare Services

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

Aria Shadow, Pinos Ride


Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn


Additional photo credits: H. Jenkins, T. Turner, S. Curry

Copyright 2017


July 29, 2017 · 11:20 am

In Defense of Horseshoes

Ever since the beginning of the Barefoot Movement, horseshoes have taken a bad wrap.

Nails — awful.

Steel — restrictive.

Damn farriers!

Ruining all our horses with outdated, medieval malevolence!

Yet — please!

Let’s don’t throw out the hoof with the bath water . . .


I’m primarily a Barefoot girl, no problem.

And barefoot is great, under the best circumstances.

I’ve ridden sound, barefoot horses on endless trails, for years.

But I shod my horses last week — and took them on one of the trails we’ve ridden, barefoot, for the past twenty years — and it enhanced the entire endeavor!!!


Aria Shadow, Pinos Ride

Bright, springy steps replaced delicate plodding.

Heightened enjoyment, not just for my husband and I, but for the horses — as they didn’t have to bother avoiding sharp, crystalline rocks.


Steel, and pads, and hoof packing — actually saved the day!

Fae Hooves Pinos -- Shoes


So what caused me to add the shoes?

We’ve had a very long, cold and drawn out winter here in the mountainous region of Southern California this year, 2017. In fact it filled our reservoirs, and broke our multi-year drought.

The ground was saturated for more than two months with snow, ice, mud.

Just when it began warming up, drying out — more rain, snow, mud.

It SNOWED 4″ in early MAY!!!!

And just when my horses hooves were developing their hard, dry soles (a kind of callus which acts like shoe protection for the internal structures and comfort of their hooves) the late snow, saturating the ground, caused those soles to slough — the equivalence losing your shoes on a hot day at the beach . . .

And caused those hooves to feel every pebble. Every rock.

rainbow hoof, Hawaii


Shoes and Pads to the Rescue

Enter steel Natural Balance horseshoes, leather and Shock Tamer pads, and Sole Pack medicated packing material.

As a farrier, it’s something I’ve done for other people’s horses for years: Shoe. Pad. Protect.

But something I’ve rarely needed to do for my own homegrown, four-generation, hardy-hooved herd.

Why? Because my own healthy-hooved horses really didn’t need it. Barefoot worked fantastic for my horses (other than occasional shoes to help with gait issues or overreaching).


Shock Tamer Pads -- Fae

So when we rode the top of our local high-elevation (8,000′-9,000′) Mt. Pinos trails the other evening and FELT the difference — same trails, same horses, we’ve ridden for twenty years — I knew I just had to write.

Because theory is one thing.

Reality is another.

Aria Shoes Pinos


Enter Uncle Ink

I agree. Not all horseshoeing is made equal — that’s why I learned to shoe, from my farrier Uncle, Ink Knudson.

I learned to trim my own homebred herd of Arab-cross horses from Uncle Ink in Malibu in 1990.

Great. Wonderful. Sound. No problems.

But by 1996, I’d moved up here to the mountains, and got an Arab-Tennessee Walker, named Max, with less than ideal hooves.

An old barb wire injury to his coronet resulted in a large scar tissue bulb that he would overreach and tear with his hind hoof, causing him head-bobbing lameness.

The hoof that did grow, came in abnormal.


Hoof soreness.

Poor Max!

The local farriers up here in our region weren’t able to keep him sound. Even with pads and packing and egg bar shoes.

That’s when I took him down to Uncle Ink .

And Uncle Ink’s shoes made Max sound.

That’s when I realized, the other farriers couldn’t, wouldn’t do what Uncle Ink did.

I had to learn how to nail on shoes — to help Max. To keep him sound.

DawnHoof - Therapeutic Shoes, Hawaii


Bad Shoeing is Bad — Good Shoeing is Good!

But what was it about Ink’s shoes that worked?

Why couldn’t the local guys have fixed Max and made him comfortable?

What did Ink know that the local guys up here didn’t?

That’s the real secret — the real story.

Steel shoes, alone, aren’t the culprit.

It’s how the hoof is trimmed, and how those shoes are applied.

As my Uncle Ink taught me, “It’s art!”

And as with all art, it takes a good eye, a good feel, and a good understanding of why you’re doing what it is that you do . . .

Aria Leather Pad, Shoes


Uncle Ink was a metallurgist in the Navy in WWII. After the war, he went to Cal Poly,  San Luis Obispo to learn the art of horse shoeing, on the GI Bill.

Then he honed his craft apprenticing with the old Calvary shoers in the LA area.

He worked with famous veterinarians doing specialized therapeutics. He could make any shoe or support apparatus in his coal forge.

He shod every kind of horse for every kind of discipline. He shod for every kind of person, including a cadre of famous actors.

He shod Ronald Reagan’s horses, Roy Roger’s Trigger, Gene Autry’s Champion . . .

And he shod my scruffy first horse, Rebel.


Marco with Grinder

The majority of today’s farriers either studied with an elder, or attended one of the farrier schools.

Emphasis seems more on appearance than function.

How nice the low-nailed clinches appear.

How straight and level the hoof.

(The old question of balance!)

Problem is, high, angled nails hold better.

Heel nails, now out of fashion, hold the best.

Many hooves are, in themselves, not straight or level. The bones have de-mineralized in accordance to the horse’s conformation.

Shoeing those hooves “straight and level” is the same as shoeing a straight and level hoof out of balance.

But how do you teach this?

How do these guys learn what it took my Uncle sixty years under the anvil, the forge, the horse, to gain?

Fae Shoes - all 4


So imagine my bliss in discovering, that the skills I originally learned to help Max with his old injury, actually improved my sound, “barefoot” horses on a real-life trail ride into my own local mountainous back country.

Solid hoofbeats. Solid horses.


We’ve got a great riding schedule planned for this season!!!

Rick on Fae, with Orbs, Pinos


Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283


Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn

Copyright 2017

Anna's Tree, Pinos




May 31, 2017 · 1:51 am

My Body is a Workhorse

My body awaits the day

Like a workhorse.

Like a racehorse.

It knows that soon

It shall be put to task.


How has society changed enough for a woman to seek out and learn to shoe horses?

What has happened to the “weaker sex”?

When I first began trimming my own barefoot horses’ hooves, twentysomething years ago – in my 30’s – it challenged me.

And I arose to the task.

It took two years of fumbling – with the tools, the skills, the posturing – to become even somewhat comfortable.

Hawaiian Hoof Trim

Six years later, when I got Max (with his old heel injury – requiring shoes) and hauled him to Chatsworth for my farrier-uncle to fix, I sized up the situation: I had to learn.

Not just to trim.

But to shoe.

For Max – in order for Max to stay sound.

That meant learning how to: Nail, shape, clinch, pull – an extremely challenging, physical skill set! Done all the while, bending over-down-up-down . . .  Underneath, and HOLDING UP the horse!

(In the beginning it hurt so bad, I couldn’t walk for three days.)

I remember thinking: “I wish it were a year from now!”

For I knew that I’d be much better at all this after a year.

Santi Hoof

Now, nearly two decades later, I am indeed much better.

I still maintain my own horses’ hooves.

I’ve also established a hoofcare and farrier practice, trimming and shoeing and keeping many other horses sound.

But, I’m older now.

And age has a way of eating away at you. As it should, slowing you down a little bit.

Good 'ol Chap


. . . The working parts on the car wear out first: Belts, bearings, transmission, alternator.

In humans: Shoulders, knees, neck, wrist, thumbs. (Feet, too!)

And her perspective at fiftysomething is far different from her thirtysomething past.

She works slower, happier. Eats better, rests more. She works smarter.

(Lighter, brighter, less pain now, Gluten-Free : ~ )

The years tick on – and still she does the work.

The commitments loom greater with age.

And the gargantuan effort she throws into the task

Appears easy to those who look on . . .



My body is a workhorse.

And I work with horses.

And the horses are the

Leisurely in this generation,

And we humans are the

Workhorses now.


Dawn and Fable

Copyright 2013

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August 31, 2013 · 8:12 pm

Where Have All the Horsemen Gone?

They were usually the quiet type. Soft spoken, athletic, lean.

They approached their charges with sensitivity and practical skills, passed on from parents and uncles of the generation before them. Learned firsthand from toiling on the family ranch or farm.

Horsemanship was a lifelong tradition. It was something in the family. Something in the blood.

They worked with the whole picture in mind, not just the moment at hand. And all that they did, like an artist taking a paintbrush to canvass, made the finished composition into a fine work of art.

When they spoke, the horse grew quiet. His eye softened. He lowered his head and took a breath and a lick.

They could accomplish in quick order what others couldn’t, no matter how much time.

Where have all the horsemen gone?


Oh yes, there still are a precious few.

Men and women who know the breath, the timing, the heartbeat of the matter. Who can come in and whisper and in short order have the tiger tamed and eating out of their hands. Who know when to become big and explosive, but also when to immediately soften, breathe and reward.

But there are too many imposters in our modern-day-horsie world. Too many who learned to parrot empty behaviors and have somehow lost the ability to think for themselves and gather practical tools from real-life mentors—tools that work.

I remember the day when the seasoned older horseman or woman was the honored elite of every horse community. These were the mentors that us younger horse-addicts would look to for guidance.

How to keep a horse from biting? “Offer the prick of a hatpin or nail.” (Or what about the one using the “hot potato”?)

What to do about barn-sour tendencies or out-and-out refusals? “Make him more concerned about YOU than the object or direction of his fear.”


As a farrier, I’ve seen horses that were misunderstood or mistreated by farriers before me. (Actually this has improved over recent years from when I first began the craft in 1990. A good sign, I’d say, as things for horses seem to be improving.)

Inevitably the horse has a balance problem, usually on the hind end. And because the animal couldn’t lift his leg high enough and couldn’t balance properly, he was punished.

OK. Punish for striking, kicking, biting—but leave balance alone!

There are ways to accommodate. Work down lower, find a place that’s comfortable for your client, the horse. Cock up an ankle and turn your boot into the lowest makeshift hoof stand. Weld up a mini stand (mine is 9” tall). Get down on your knees.

My old uncle, Ink Knudson, a farrier for more than fifty years, had a trick with a leather shoelace that works wonders with an unruly horse.

Tie one end to the top ring (or knot) of the halter. Bring the lace around and into the mouth, leaving it loose enough so that the horse can tongue it, play with it, then bring it up and tie to the ring on the other side.

“He can’t think about two things at once,” Uncle Ink explains.

“He’ll try to spit out the string and forget about what you are doing.” (This method has helped me throughout the years.)


I’ve found that breathing really works. When the horse does anything close to what I’ve asked of him, I back off the pressure and take a big breath, softening my body and voice, making a long, impressive loose-lipped exhale.

The horse takes my lead, breathes, licks, lowers his head, and I know I’m in.

(Well, there was that mare on Molokai with the tendon-hitch to her hind end. She breathed and licked all soft and gentle—then hauled off and kicked me in the arm! I guess they’re exceptions to every rule.)

I weave back and forth, working my way closer into his range of acceptance, waiting for the heavy feeling of relaxation—the weight of the limb—that tells me he’s allowing me in.

Remember, I work with the feet, the same feet that either yield or strike, and the heavy weight tells me he’s not ready to strike. It’s an art, reading the horse and not getting killed.

(I was kicked in the head by a mule once, after I was done working—when by all means, it appeared I was “safe”. I had ignored my instincts that day. The mule had told me. But I made the mistake of listening to the trainer—and not the mule, and not my own gut. . .)


An older woman, a former client of mine, Sheila, had her own way of getting into a horse’s heart zone. She was the first one I’d seen with this approach, and it worked like magic.

Her grey Mustang mare, White Cloud, was apprehensive of me. I was in my shoeing chaps, this was my first time working with her, and the mare had plenty of previous issues with farriers.

Sheila went in to catch her up. White Cloud’s head rose, she backed away and turned slightly, ready to flee.

Sheila quietly, calmly—in slow motion—bowed her head, and then her body.

Low. Lower. Released. Relaxed.

Then she waited in that vulnerable bent position.

And then White Cloud looked at Sheila intently, stretched out her neck, took a breath and stepped slowly, softly forward, until she breathed her nostrils into Sheila’s hair.

Then ever-so-slowly Sheila lifted her body upright.

And they were one. Melded. Connected from the heart.

And the once-wild Mustang accepted Sheila as her own

(And then we went on to trimming her hooves. . .)


What a good reminder to the rest of us—to have the sense, the humility, to look up and seek out the Uncle Inks and the Sheilas and the breathing and the calmness that allows us humans to enter into the heart zone of the animals that we adore.

After all, our goal is a working relationship between ourselves and our horses. To participate in the joy of discovering, freshly, how to overcome obstacles—together.

Then the horsemen will continue their legacy. And the horses will whisper back in return.


Copyright 2013


April 4, 2013 · 1:03 pm