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This weeks lesson: Horseshoeing with farrier Jon Strickland
School life: Summer session
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Impresario, a 17-hand Hanoverian, a 22-year-old warmblood gelding who has competed among some of the top dressage horses in the area, waits to get his new set of shoes. His owner is Ashley Marascalco.
As hobbies go, Jon Strickland's is a bit uncommon.

Strickland can be found on certain evenings hunched over the foot of a horse, whacking on a nail or sawing it down to give a shoe a perfect fit.

About 16 years ago, Strickland said, his farrier - the person who fits shoes onto a horse - didn't show up for his appointment to shoe Strickland's horses at his Hall County farm. So, he said, he decided to give it a try.

"And one thing led to another," he said. "It was hard and difficult and it didn't look very good and it took forever, but one thing led to another and I did my own for a year before I touched anybody else's."

The art of horseshoeing is part construction work and part gut feeling. A good farrier can make a lame horse walk well again, and can mean the difference between a horse performing well and performing perfectly.

On a recent visit to Garland Farm just over the Lumpkin County line, Strickland was shoeing Impresario, a 17-hand Hanoverian, a 22-year-old warmblood gelding who has competed among some of the top dressage horses in the area. His owner, Ashley Marascalco, said Strickland has been shoeing "Impy" for nearly the entire time Strickland has been shoeing horses, and it means a lot to her to have someone who really knows her horse be her farrier.

"They say the foot makes the horse," she said. "You spend so much money on these horses, and to have them go the way they should go, that's the world. It's pretty critical, if not the most important thing."

When a horse's foot isn't balanced, she said, their body isn't balanced. And that means a lot, especially when it's a horse like Impy who competes at a high level in a sport that requires precision.

"You're looking for perfection in dressage, and we're looking for the same thing in the feet," Strickland said.

He said he's learned his trade through hard work, practice, clinics and anything he can find on the Internet. But overall, he said, horse's feet don't change, even though there's always a new type of shoe or pad - a soft gel or rubber piece that is placed between the shoe and the hoof for added support.

"I think you just remember to keep it simple," he said. "You trim the foot, you balance it out, you give the horse protection and support. That's why we shoe."

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