September 30, 2005 | By: Aimee Nielson
horseshoeing students trim feet

Students learned to trim feet

Textbooks are essential for college students, but they can’t convey everything students need to know, especially some aspects of animal sciences. Fortunately, students in Bob Coleman’s equine management class only had to travel a little more than an hour to participate in a day-long, hands-on learning approach to hoof care.

Coleman is the equine specialist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. He’s been cooperating with Mitch Taylor at the Kentucky Horseshoeing School for several years. Together they provide students with an experience they just can’t get from classroom books and lectures. 

“They get to nail on shoes…trim feet, and they will have a demonstration from a trained farrier doing the whole thing from start to finish, including building the shoe,” Coleman said. “But then they also get to work on a shoe themselves and find out, yeah, it isn’t real easy; it’s hard work, but it’s also pretty exciting. It’s certainly not as easy as it looks – putting the nails in the right place and understanding about hoof construction – but it all goes together.”

Most of Coleman’s students are not interested in becoming professional farriers like those enrolled at the horseshoeing school, but he’s okay with that.

““Do I want my students to all become farriers, no I don’t,” Coleman said. “But I would like them to understand hoof care, how to look after their horses, how to do the right thing and at least appreciate why the farrier is doing what he is doing. You can read about it in the book, but picking up that hammer and actually hitting that nail – it really does kind of drive it home.”

Not all students in the equine management class are planning careers in the horse industry, but some have horses at home and are interested in knowing more about the horseshoeing process. Many were surprised at how much work was involved.

““I have a new respect for my farrier; this is really hard,” said student Lauren Stockwell while trimming a hoof. “But I’m having a lot of fun learning it.”

Horseshoeing students shape shoes

Students learned to shape shoes.

Other students had been exposed to the farrier trade before but had never really paid much attention to the details.

“I know a lot about horses, but I don’t know that in-depth stuff about their feet and how exactly to take care of them every day…we are learning a lot of that out here,“ said Matt Zajack, who currently works on a farm to pay his way through college. “You can’t really learn about horses unless you do hands-on stuff. I never knew anything about horses, then I worked with horses out West. The only way you learn is by working with them every day. The hands-on stuff is necessary for a class like this.”

Taylor, who is director of the Kentucky Horseshoeing School, said his students get a lot out of the day as well. They teach Coleman’s students what they are learning, and Taylor said that helps their knowledge stick.

“Our students are here today because they already know these real basic elements, they’ve just learned them,” Taylor said. “It does two things – it clinches their learning process and helps them to understand a little bit better how to communicate to someone in layman’s terms.”

Coleman said the cooperation with Taylor and the horseshoeing school is vital to his student’s learning. 

“If we didn’t have it, we would be learning it out of a book and we’d probably be doing it with PowerPoint® and we wouldn’t have the experience,” Coleman said. “We wouldn’t have the people who do this on a daily basis and really have a way of communicating what it’s all about.”

Future cooperation may be even more convenient than it is right now. Taylor said the Kentucky Horseshoeing School will move to Lexington soon. Groundbreaking is scheduled for summer of 2006. He said he wants to turn his current four-month curriculum into a two-year program, where farriers are trained to a certain standard. Coleman said with the school moving to Lexington, there will be many new opportunities for cooperation.


Writer: Aimee Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: Bob Coleman 859-257-9451