Braskamp enjoys horsing around
By JANE UTECHT, Staff Reporter
Humans enjoy a good pedicure as a luxury. Horses enjoy a good pedicure as a necessity. There's even a saying, "No hoof, no horse," to demonstrate the importance of a farrier.
Corey Braskamp of Wentworth is a farrier, working part-time to take care of area horses' hooves. Here he works on the shoe of one of his horses, Pine. Braskamp likes to be able to help horses stay healthy with his work. "I enjoy doing it."
Corey Braskamp of Wentworth said his work as a farrier "keeps [horses] healthier and that's the main goal."
Although the stereotypical image of horseshoeing conjures up a pioneer blacksmith pounding hot metal on an anvil, or working over a hot forge, today's farrier may not use those techniques.
Braskamp knows "a few guys who are real good with a forge," but today's farriers "can buy factory made shoes."
"So many more shoe companies, and more shoes, and more nails than there used to be," he said. Each different shoe is designed to work with different problems. Sometimes there are no nails. There's a product similar to a two-part epoxy that turns into a cushiony gel, so it's like the horse is wearing a tennis shoe. This is a good option if the horse has a narrow shoe wall that can't be nailed, Braskamp said.
Those are just some of the changes in the profession that technology has brought about in the last 25 years. Other changes have come in how to trim a foot. Braskamp said there used to be a hard and fast rule to shoe the hoof at a certain angle from the heel to the toe. Now the advice is to match up the angles of each horse's bones in the leg and ankle.
Braskamp grew up just east of Madison. "We always had horses."
His dad started showing him how to shoe horses, and he's had additional training. He attended a two-day school put on by a farrier from Arlington; he spent a lot of time with the resident farrier at Iowa State University when his wife was attending vet school in Ames.
In the 25 years that Braskamp has been doing farrier work, he's worked on Belgians, some mini horses and all sizes in between.
He will go out a couple nights a week, sometimes on a Saturday. Because he has a young family and a full-time job as physical plant manager at DSU, he said, "I try to limit my clients." Other farriers "do full-time and do quite well" because "there seems to be more and more horses around. With ``It would not take much for somebody to go full-time. Everybody's pretty swamped right now," he said.
Horse foot care is still hard work, and it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to shoe a horse. Flies make the work a challenge, and if the horse doesn't stand still, or especially if it's their first shoeing, "It can be quite a challenge," Braskamp said, but he knows a few tricks.
A newer trend is letting the horse go barefoot, or with a natural trim.
"There's a place for that," Braskamp said. For example, it can work if the horse is on a hard terrain, such as out west, where the ground is sandy or rocky and the hoof will naturally wear down.
"But here, the hoof can grow out and break up."
It also makes a difference with the breed of horse. As breeders select horses for certain traits, some have developed a really hard hoof; others have a softer hoof, which can break and make the animal lame.
"It's not a catch-all for everybody," he said.
It also may not be a profession for everybody, but Braskamp enjoys his farrier work.
"If it's a performance horse, you try to optimize their ability and extend their life, or prevent them from getting injured," he said. "I like to see a problem a horse can have and help or eliminate it with the proper foot care."
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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