Crawford – On a grassy hill, where the Ponderosa pines break away sits the Butler Professional Farrier School of Crawford.
The school was recently named as a winner of the 2018 Third District Excellence in Economic Development awarded by Congressman Adrian Smith.
“Our U.S. Congressman Adrian Smith visited the school a while back,” said Jacob Butler, certified journeyman farrier, director and instructor at Butler Professional Farrier School. “He even put on an apron and we talked with him about what it takes to be a farrier, we’re very honored for the award.”
Jacob Butler is not the only Butler in the business, his father Dr. Doug Butler and brother Peter Butler are also certified journeyman farriers.
“Dad has been in the business for a long time, we say it’s in the blood,” said Jacob.
Doug Butler earned his degree at Cal-Poly in California and taught farrier science at many universities.
“I was 15 years old and my mother had some ponies she paid to get shoed, she told me ‘I could pay you if you learned how to do it,’” Doug said.
Doug did learn, but before making it career he moved west with his father to be a cowboy.
“I became interested in doing it (farrier) well, and found I could make more money doing it than, as a cowboy,” he said.
Doug eventually moved to Crawford with his sons, and opened up the Butler Professional Farrier School.
The school offers a 12-week course, where students learn on horses, online and through textbooks.
“Students can take the entire 12-weeks or break it up into two six-week courses. It’s entirely up to the individual,” Jacob said.
The school focuses on seven skill areas: anatomy, horsemanship, customer skills, iron and forge work, running and managing a business, taking care of self so you last as a farrier, and of course, hands on experience trimming, cutting, and shoeing horses.
The Butlers and other farriers often work with veterinarians to assist with the overall health of the horse.
“You have to be able to work around horses and know when they are in pain, they don’t talk so you have to recognize the signs,” Jacob said.
Farriers can own a variety of tools, but the common ones are the ones they have been using for over a century, such as anvils, forges and hoof nippers.
New technology has added to the list and includes manufactured shoes. While the manufactured shoes can save a farrier time. Jacob said, farriers should always know how to make shoes.
“We make custom shoes for horses with a broken out foot, where the nails have to go in different locations or make a shoe specifically to a horse, such as therapeutic shoes,” he said.
Peter, also an instructor at the school explained how horses hooves if not kept trimmed can throw the balance of the horse off.
“A horses feet can grow out of balance, making it uncomfortable to walk,” he said. “The weight distribution will cause (hooves) to grow in different ways.”
This can cause a strain on the tendons and ligaments, creating health problems for the horse.
The Butlers have trimmed and shoed a variety of animals from horses, to ponies, and even goats and cows.
The school often has students from across the U.S. and from other countries. Today there are only about 50 farrier schools and Butler Professional Farrier School is one of them.
“We’re just honored to be part of this community, we love it here and enjoy raising our families here,” Jacob said. “We look forward to being part of the community for a long time.”