Gina McKnight, Author, Freelance Writer, Equestrian, Blogger, and Poet! Welcome to my international blog about horses, writers, authors, books, cowboys, equestrians, photographers, artists, poets, poems, and more horses.
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Sunday, January 1, 2017
A Farrier Encounter: An interview with Farrier Bill Knowlton
early Thursday morning and the sun is up, slowly rising over the autumn hills. My
farrier, Bill Knowlton, is on his way to my barn. He is always on time. Always.
He drives into the barnyard with a ready-smile. He is a guy who likes horses –
it shows through his posture and attitude. Some people dream of being a
horseman, others pretend to be a horseman, while the select few are true
horsemen; the humble ability to talk without speaking, demand without force,
and feel without touching. Bill Knowlton is a true horseman. Opening the back
doors of his pickup truck, he unloads his farrier tools and gets right to work.
“Good morning,” Bill smiles.
my Paint-Quarter Horse mare is flat-footed. She went lame over the summer, but
is better now with appropriate shoes and a short regiment of phenylbutazone. Every
horse owner/rider knows that consistency is important with horses (as most
things). Having the right vet and farrier are key to keeping healthy horses.
farriers are not created equal, and I am fortunate to have Bill as my farrier. I thought it would be fun to share insights
from Bill with you. While Bill is putting shoes on Zubie, I talk to him about
horses, hooves, and happiness…
When was your first encounter with a horse?
My grandpa had a plow horse. When I was
very young, I remember holding the long reins and pretend I was plowing, just
like grandpa. I would spend hours with grandpa’s horse.
How long have you been a farrier?
BK: Fourteen years. I’ve shoed well over a
thousand horses. Currently, I have 300 horses. I turned three horses away just
this week. Even though we have a farrier program at the local college, our area
is short on farriers.
Why do you suppose there is a lack of farriers in this area?
BK: When the students graduate from the farrier
program at the local college, they move on to larger facilities and breeding
farms. Some go out West where there is a need for wranglers and farriers.
When you decided to become a farrier, who was your instructor/mentor?
BK: I trained under Kurt Underschultz [World
Equestrian Games Farrier]. He actually taught farrier for 13 years. I was
luckily enough to get with him for two years. I went to his clients with him. I
learned a ton from him. I don’t see him very often. I pass him on the rode
What’s the best thing about being a farrier?
I’ve always liked to work with my
hands. As a farrier, you work for yourself; make your own rules, your own time
schedule. I like that. I like meeting new people and working with different
people every day. It keeps my job interesting.
What is the worse case you’ve ever seen?
I’ve worked on horses who had to be put
down, mostly foundered horses with the coffin bone coming out of their feet –
all four feet. I see a lot of foundered horses, but some cases are worse than
others. Some horses are more sensitive to foundering than others. Some horses
like to eat and don’t know when to quit.
Bill trimming Zubie.
What other ailments may cause severe hoof issues that require special farrier
BK: Besides a foundered horse, navicular disease
can be an issue, too. Sometimes you can get horses who can be ridden with
navicular disease, others require complete stall rest. The worse thing is a horse who is really
lame, and you can’t figure out what it is. You have to poke in the dark to
figure out what it is. I know one horse in particular who was x-rayed multiple
times and was always lame. X-rays showed no problems. Finally, we put plastic
shoes on the horse, and fixed it. That horse was fine to ride and everything,
as long as he had on the plastic shoes.
I’ve never meet a farrier who doesn’t have horses of his/her own. What horses
do you currently stable?
BK: I have two horses of my own; a Tennessee
Walking Horse and a Kentucky Mountain horse. I like them both. I spend more
time on the Tennessee Walking Horse. The Kentucky Mountain horse is 34 years. I
retired him and don’t ride him. He’s in really good shape. He would be good for
GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
BK: It’s all about understanding a horse; to be
around horses, understand horses, and they understand you. To be respectful is
everything. It’s all about respect. Once in a while I get horses I can’t get
along with. It’s because they don’t have respect; they don’t trust people.
GM: You are always healthy and pleasant, what is
the key to good health and happiness?
BK: Being around horses keeps you young. The
quote is true… the best thing for the inside of a man is the outside of a