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A day in the life of a North Country farrier

PERU Many of us would find working as a farrier exhausting and frightening. Caring for horses feet is hard physical labor with an element of danger.

On Tuesday July 3, Lance Falcon, a farrier from Peru, chatted about his life as a farrier while working on the feet of the four horses on Jay and Carrie Wray's hobby farm in West Peru.

It is a dangerous job, he commented. A horses kick can be deadly. Ironically, his closest call happened at home with his own horse.

With experience most farriers develop a sense that a horse is about to do something and take proactive steps.

Falcon's interest in working with horses was fed by his grandmother's frequent stories about her favorite horses on her family farm. At 16 he took a job working as a stable boy in Chateauguay Lake. Next he instructed English riding in North Carolina. The farrier who worked on the feet of the stable horses convinced him to pursue a career as a farrier.

Falcon attended a farrier's school in Oklahoma City before returning to the North Country. From 1987 to 1997 he was a full time farrier working 70 hours weekly. In 1997 he became a bus driver for the Peru district, and a part time farrier during the school years. During summers he returns to his full time farrier work.

Horses that are frequently used need farrier work more often. Race horses usually need new shoes every two weeks, while other horses need them about every six weeks. Horses without shoes need a trim around every eight weeks. Variables such as diet and weather affect the growth of the hoof.

Hooves grow slower in dry weather, and faster when it is humid, Falcon explained. They also grow slower in the winter.

Falcon used to focus on making specialized shoes and had a trailer full of tools. Now he travels light with only three basic tools: a hoof knife with a bent tip for cleaning out the hoof, nippers for clipping the hoof, and a rasp which is an overgrown file. His focus is on the horses over all health and trimming the hoof to maintain proper balance and angle.

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