Though many riders are women, only 10% of farriers are female. Patty Lynch, who was named Maryland’s #1 barefoot farrier, has learned to let her work speak for itself.
What got you started on your path to being a farrier?
Well, I had a bad farrier experience and I was looking for alternatives. I had a horse that was offset into the hoof capsule. One wing of the coffin bone was very wide, and the other was very narrow. My farrier said I could fix that with a special shoe, which didn’t seem right…how can you fix your horse’s whole cannon bone with a shoe?
So I started learning about natural horseshoeing and trimming, and realized my horse’s bad feet were just a reflection of the shape of his bone. I took a lot of clinics with Dr. Strasser and others, and I did a lot of research on my own because I didn’t feel like there was one right way for every horse. It took three to four years to jump into being a farrier full-time, but now I have a very full practice.
Why the focus on barefoot trims?
Well, it’s about what’s best for the individual horse, not necessarily about having no shoes. My slogan is “Barefoot when possible, shoes when necessary.” A lot of people get caught up in the look of barefoot hooves, but the horses aren’t always 100% comfortable, even if they’re not outright lame. You can’t make all horses 100% comfortable, but you can try.
What do you like most about the career?
Horses don’t lie. They give an instant reward, and by changing horses’ feet, you can actually change their lives to make them happier and more comfortable.
What about least?
There are a lot of factors out of your control when you’re a farrier–the horse’s feed, exercise regimen, its turnout situation–and all of that can affect the hoof. Also, it’s definitely a demanding job physically and in terms of the hours. Being a mom on top of that is probably the most challenging part since it’s not the most flexible schedule.
As a female farrier, what have your challenges been, and how have you handled them?
I think a lot of horse people, even if they are women, are just accustomed to men taking care of their horses. Obviously most farriers are men because it’s very physically demanding. But women can physically do the job. I just let my work speak for itself.
It’s also a very emotional job–maybe that’s just how I view it, but I put a lot of pride and investment into my work. When things are tough I vent to my husband…he is my rock and just talking about the challenges makes it easier.
Do you have any advice for other women considering the career?
Learn from as many people as you can, but also be confident with your own way of doing things–my trim is a little different since I like a bit of wall, and that’s OK. Trimming feet is a mixture of art and science which I think many women can do well. I think more women should be farriers!