Right now hundreds of farriers and horse-care professionals are gathered in Cincinnati, Ohio attending the International Hoof-care Summit. If you follow The Green Horseman’s Facebook page you’ll notice I’ve been celebrating hoof-care week with a daily video.
What better way to celebrate this week than with a long overdue interview with a farrier!
Ashley Gasky is an Accredited Professional Farrier (APF) and the owner of Precision Hoofcare. I have known her since forth grade, and we BOTH had “horse mania” back then. Living down the street from each-other we often hung out and played games. One of our biggest joys was visiting the horses that lived nearby (well, in front of her home). Matisse, a paint mare. Cherokee, a fiery chestnut thoroughbred mare. Abu, an old chestnut Arabian gelding who lived with Cherokee is a separate paddock from Matisse. The ornery paint mare had kicked him and broke his hip at one point. Later on, a Belgian gelding named Buddy and two llamas were brought to another nearby field. We spent our days feeding the horses grass and playing in the old barn with antique harnesses and gear. We often waited for the horses’ owner to stop by so we could go into the paddock and help.
Life pulled us in separate directions and as fate would have it we were reunited when I got Blade, my first horse. I was looking for a farrier and she came highly recommended! She even hauled him home for me.
Before Zac and I became homeowners I was Ashley’s go-to person for petsitting. I have spent many days loving on her growing herd; the main diva happens to be a fiery redhead thoroughbred mare named Reality. I wonder if our doting on Cherokee many years ago had anything to do with that? I am convinced the other horses only live there to amuse Reality.
Ashley has always been dedicated to excellence for as long as I have known her. She is extremely knowledgeable and open to new ideas and concepts. I could think of no better person to have as a guest on The Green Horseman for a brief interview.
Green Horseman (GH): When did you decide that you wanted to work on horses’ hooves?
Ashley (A): It wasn’t a conscious decision so much as a progression. When I graduated college and didn’t take my LSATS was probably a big moment. As was quitting my other jobs to be a full time farrier.
GH: If someone wants to learn to become a farrier, where would you begin?
A: I would suggest they ride around with a few different farriers and see what things are like. Then attend one of the many farrier schools. I did not go to farrier school “per say”, but that meant I’ve had to spend an extraordinary amount of time traveling and learning. I don’t regret that, and I’m grateful to all the people who help me. But I would still have gone to a school, knowing what I know now.
GH: What education do you need to become a farrier?
A: There are ZERO educational requirements or regulations to being a farrier or hoof care professional. It truly puts the burden of knowledge in the hands of the individual… you have to WANT to learn more and do better.
GH: Some people want to trim their own horse’s hooves to save costs. What is your advice on this?
A: If you want to trim your horses feet because it looks easy and will save you money… don’t. If you are watching someone work, and it looks easy, I can assure you it’s because they’ve spent hundreds of hours practicing.
Also, “saving money” irks me. No one gets horses to save money. There are plenty of reasons and ways to become involved in your horse’s hoof-care. A genuine interest in the well being of your horse is excellent example. Saving money isn’t.
GH: Do you prefer trimming or shoeing?
A: I like trimming and shoeing because I get to trim the feet that get shoes. I guess shoeing has both in it. I do a lot more trimming than shoeing, but it’s the horses I enjoy more than either.
GH: Do you have a breed you prefer to work on?
A: I can’t say that I have a breed preference, I just like good feet attached to safe horses with legs long enough to bend comfortably.
GH: What is the one thing you wish your clients would know and/or do?
A: Feathers, please keep feathers out of your farrier’s way.
I have personally learned a ton from Ashley over the years. There are so many things you don’t learn about horses from riding lessons and regular barn chores. I have been cleaning stalls and working on farms periodically over the last twenty years, but I often find new ways to feel like a beginner. Ashley has been a critical asset for me and continues to be a valuable resource in my support team.
In the interview questions we covered the frightening idea that no formal education is needed to become a farrier. Any overly confident person can pick up some nippers and call themselves a trimmer (though the business is very word of mouth so I don’t believe that would get someone too far).
Despite no true requirement to become a farrier Ashley went above and beyond. She has worked her butt off to be where she is today. There are two primary accrediting organizations in the United States; The American Farriers Association (AFA) and the American Association of Professional Farriers (AAPF). Ashley is accredited by not one but BOTH of these groups. It is a tremendous accomplishment!
To learn more visit:
Precision Hoofcare (Even if you’re not local she is always making educational posts to help you learn and grow as a horse person.
Below is Ashley’s herd. The big handsome paint gelding Joe unfortunately was no longer pasture sound and for quality of life reasons he was laid to rest. The chestnut mare is Reality. The sassy pants grey paint pony is Sassy Pants. The moody little black bear pony is Anabelle.
I don’t have any good photos of him, but she has recently adopted a tall leggy bay thoroughbred gelding who she has named Milo.