Happy feet: The track blacksmith gets up close

  • Article by: KELLY PARSONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 25, 2013 - 9:25 PM

The chaps Wally Reyes wears help protect him from being stuck by nails and allow him to prop a horse’s hoof on his leg while he works. But being so close to a horse’s feet can make Reyes’ job risky.

Sweat dripping from his brow, Wally Reyes sits in the back of his truck to take a break after shoeing a horse. Behind him lie the tools of his trade.

“It’s kind of hard to say every single one,” said Reyes, 34, a blacksmith and farrier at Canterbury Park. “I think I have maybe 80-something tools.”

Reyes, who spends part of his year at Canterbury shoeing eight to 10 horses per day, learned the craft while working as an apprentice to a blacksmith in Oklahoma City. There, Reyes learned everything he knows about how to care for horses’ feet.

On average, shoeing a horse is a 35-minute-long process. Reyes must take off the old shoe, clean and trim the horse’s hoof, then make sure the new shoe fits before nailing it in place. Sometimes he must glue a horse’s shoe on its hoof, something that can take 25 minutes per foot.

The chaps Reyes wears help protect him from being stuck by nails and allow him to prop a horse’s hoof on his leg while he works. But being so close to a horse’s feet can make Reyes’ job risky.

“Sometimes horses lose patience,” he said. “They lose it quick, and you don’t know when they’re going to kick you.”

Reyes said he enjoys his job because it allows him to make good money while spending time with horses, something he’s loved doing since he was a boy growing up in Texas.

“The most important things about a horse is its feet,” Reyes said. “I like to make them feel good.”

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