Johnny’s new shoes
Farrier Kristi Reeves of Harrison loves her work
TRAIL CREEK – “Most people know me bent over better than face-to-face,” says a chuckling Kristi Reeves, while she trimmed the hooves of “Johnny,” a big bay quarter horse. “They don’t recognize me standing up. But they know I usually wear Wrangler jeans and have a (hoof) knife on the right side,” she continued.
Reeves is a farrier, a hard and very necessary job here where cattle ranching, outfitting, trail riding, rodeos, horses and the people who use them all collide.
The Harrison-based woman travels across the county in a specially-built pickup, complete with an iron forge, blacksmith anvil, horseshoeing stands and other gear.
Reeves is a graduate of Montana State University’s Professional Farrier Course as well as a member of the Montana Professional Horseshoers Association (MPHA).
With a strong working knowledge of equine anatomy, Reeves strives for expertise in her field, constantly seeking new information and technology about serving both the horses she works with and the clients she serves. She does therapeutic shoeing, shoes to gait faults, offers a balanced barefoot trim, makes custom shoes for every hoof and has the ability to modify or create shoes for specific results.
Still, farrier work is hard work, often bent over with a horse’s hoof between your knees, the horse leaning on you, work.
Hooves are cleaned and prepared for shoeing with a hoof knife, the hoof trimmed with a nippers, the surface to be shoed filed flat, the hoof itself shaped. Johnny had dry, hard hooves, so this took a good bit of effort.
Reeves then sizes up hoof for a shoe, a skill requiring a very well-trained eye.
She hot forges shoes – heats the shoe in an iron forge, and pounds it into proper shape based on the dimensions of the horse’s hoof.
Next comes grinding the edges of the shoe to smoothness, so it will do no damage to the horse if he clips himself with a hoof; or other horses, should he step on them.
Reeves applies the shoe to the hoof, and sharp horseshoeing nails, six to a hoof, three on each side, hold it in place. The points of the nails must be bent over, nipped off and clenched into place with a special tool.
The final steps are smoothing the hoof and nails with a file, and dose of hoof dressing.
Repeat all of this four times, once for each hoof.
Reeves said she enjoys working with horses, making their feet and shoeing needs are well taken care of.
Sometimes her four kids come along, the youngest still in diapers, “to help” she says smiling, recalling an adventure on one farm where the kids got so dirty playing tag with some farm animals they had to be hosed off on the spot.
This, perhaps, is how future farriers are born.