About Dana

The Red Headed Farrier

My Story

How I Became the “Red Headed Farrier”

Sometimes I wonder if I was born loving horses. All I ever wanted was to be around them, ride them, read about them, have them. My first exposure to a farrier, however, came in my late teens from my now long-time friend Marjie Olsen.

Despite starting with dressage at age six, I tell anyone who will listen that my foundation regarding horse knowledge, was from her. I used to ride along and hold horses while she worked, fascinated with what she was doing and how she could help them. At one point she even suggested I become her apprentice, I responded with a chuckle, and a few months later left for college.

Central Michigan University was first on the list, including a semester study abroad in Germany. Upon my return, a transfer to Michigan State University followed, where I ultimately obtained my degree in Hospitality Business with minors in Spanish and German. As would prove a theme in my life, I took the less traditional road and my first job at a high performance/Corvette racing school outside Las Vegas, in Pahrump, NV, where I helped with event planning, marketing and operations. From there, I landed a job with Las Vegas Motor Speedway doing short-track and drag racing public relations. My PR job led me to interview my would-be husband, a job at The Orleans Arena as the VIP Services and Sponsorship Fulfillment Manager, and years later moving to North Carolina, where I had never been before. 

The move was brought on by a job change for my now ex, and with his career dreams coming true, I negotiated that mine did also. Thus began the search for my first horse, who would end up being a big, beautiful, stubborn, bay tobiano paint gelding named Cody. At the time it certainly wasn’t all smiles, but I still laugh and joke that he taught me more than I ever wanted to know. He was also my first step toward becoming a farrier, something I get asked about often, and with an array of tones and facial expressions:

“You WHAT? What’choo wanna do that for?”

“Well look at you, with yer red hair and blue eyes! I ain’t never seen a woman farrier before.”

“I couldn’t wait to meet you! I’ve never met a female farrier-did you come from a line of farriers?” (Haha, no. You’d have thought this one was meeting a movie star she was so excited.)

“How did you end up a farrier, what did you do before?”

I digress. The short answer to the question of how I got here is that each of my horses led me closer to becoming a farrier. Cody with his refusals to enter the gate and barrel race, later diagnosed “navicular changes” that actually ended up being soles so thin he nearly came through the bottom of his feet. Dashy with her club foot that couldn’t tolerate a perimeter fit, and produced horrendous toe cracks- running like the wind anyway, winning barrel races everywhere we went. Rio with his baby feet that hadn’t been trimmed. And finally, the one that ultimately tipped the scale and sent me to school, my sweet Millie. The blonde bombshell in so much pain, with her tiny little slipper feet and chronic, mechanical laminitis- mismanaged for so long, her coffin bones have remodeled to look like shoes from Holland, with tips curling up so much, you can see a piece broken off on the x-ray. Yet somehow the size of her heart and try still outweighs the fact that most other horses in her condition would be in the grave. Today not only is she still sound, but also the most incredible equine athlete and barrel horse. Helping all these horses would not have been possible without equine podiatry vet Dr. Richard Mansmann and his farrier Kurt VomOrde, both of which are friends, mentors and incredible human beings. They referred me to Laura Miller, who graciously took me in as an apprentice “of sorts,” as frequently as possible, since I travelled 3 hours one way to stay a few days and ride with her. These horses, Doc, Kurt and Laura were what drove me to find hoof mapping, Mission Farrier School-where I spent 3 months- and owner Mark Plumlee who became the next driving force in my education.

Since graduating, continuing education is an ongoing passion of mine and I have not only returned to Mission Farrier School for refreshers, but also to Heartland Horseshoeing School 2 week blacksmith course. I attend the International Hoof Care Summit in Ohio, and lameness clinics at the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization in Colorado. Participate in dissections, trim courses, equine symposiums and learned the art of gluing from my friend and “gluru” Curtis Burns with PolyFlex Horseshoes. The fact that there is always something to learn is one of my favorite things about this career. This passion has driven me to test and so far become Live Sole Hoof Mapping Certified (LSHMC), a Certified Barefoot Trimmer (CBT), Certified Farrier Practitioner (CFP) and Accredited Farrier (AF).

All this said, how did I become the “Red Headed Farrier”? Clients and other farriers named me that. As in, Dana who? “You know, the red headed farrier!”

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