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Farrier sees each horse differently;Longtime horseman takes his shoeing service far and wide

< Photo: Jacqui Krizo/For the Capital Press 10/31/08
Jim Bob Fowler shoes horses in Southern Oregon and Northern California. He said shoeing and shaping horses’ feet properly can prevent and correct problems, but shoeing them poorly will harm the horse.

by JACQUI KRIZO for the Capital Press

Jim Bob Fowler taught his horse to kick anyone who got too close. So when he was 12 and wanted his horse shod, his father told him he’d have to do it himself.

“It took me four days to get him shod, and I had him footroped and I had him rope-burned pretty bad by the time I got done doing him, but I got him shod,” said Fowler. “Then I began shoeing the neighbor kids’ horses. That’s the reason I started.”

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Now Fowler is 48, has a wife and seven kids, and he still shoes horses every day from north of Chemult, Klamath Falls, Chiloquin, and Lakeview, Ore., to as far south as Fall River and McArthur, Calif.

He didn’t go to school to become a farrier; he learned by riding and being around horses, and from his dad, who shoed horses until he was 72 years old.


Fowler said shoeing and shaping horses’ feet can help prevent problems. “Shoeing avoids stone bruises, protects their feet and keeps the hoofs from breaking off.”

He said if the horse is shod correctly, he will stand correctly, and if it’s done poorly, he will stand crooked. He said it is important to shoe the horse the way he wants to stand instead of trying to change the way he stands.

A poor job can affect his joints and tendons. When a horse founders, it rotates his coffin bone.

“By shaping a horse’s foot, you can help correct the direction of the coffin bone,” Fowler said. “He will still be lame, but this can relieve pressure on the foot of a lame horse.”

Each farrier shoes a horse differently. Fowler said he can tell by looking at the horse’s foot who shoed him.

He never uses a stand to put the hoof on, believing it to be a waste of time. “I never grew up using one. It’s an unnatural position for your horses’ feet to be.”

Horses don’t frighten Fowler; however, he said, his greatest challenge is keeping from getting kicked. “You either have the fear of an animal or a respect of an animal. I just grew up around them; it’s natural. If you’re scared of your job, how do you do it if you’re scared?”

He said he will shoe any horse, and he will guarantee his work for six weeks.

Liz Prater from Tulelake said Fowler is the best farrier she ever had. “He comes when he says he’ll be there, and even if I’m not home, he will catch the horse and take care of his hooves. They always wear well, and he is excellent with the horse.”

Fowler’s philosophy working with horses is to read the animal to see what he wants to do. Then he tries to figure out how to get the horse to do what he wants him to do.

Besides shoeing horses all day, Fowler raises cattle and horses to sell, and he rides some colts.

Despite the danger and hard work, he loves his job: “I’m outside every day. I get to mess with horses every day, and that’s what I enjoy doing.”

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