When was the last time you felt grounded? For Brelen Parker, it was probably earlier today.
Brelen works in a profession he says is the most grounding work he’s ever done, and to be honest, it’s a profession we knew little about. So we sat down for a quick conversation with him and got the scoop on this lesser-known profession that’s likely been around longer than anything we’ve ever earned a paycheck for.
GL: Brelen, you’re a farrier! Wait…what exactly does a farrier do?
BP: Hey! So a farrier, or a horseshoer, takes care of and maintains the feet of horses. Just like our nails, horse hooves are made of keratin and grow out over time. We’re essentially foot doctors.
Depending on the horse, we typically meet with them about every 5-7 weeks to trim off excess growth. If the hoof grows too long, it can affect how well the horse walks and the strength of the foot. (And no, it doesn’t hurt the horse, as long as it’s done right!)
Ever heard the phrase, “No hoof, no horse”? It means the feet of the horse are the most important part of the horse, making my job vital to the health of the horse.
GL: How did you learn about this profession? How long have you been a farrier?
BP: I worked many trades throughout my adolescence and I knew I liked working with my hands. One day while out on a hike with a friend of a friend, I discovered he was a farrier. It sounded intriguing to me and I began an apprenticeship with him. Soon after, I attended Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School for further training.
After completing school 10 years ago, I started my own business in the Bay Area and have been doing it ever since.
GL: What excites you most about being a horse farrier? What motivates you?
BP: The work that I do is incredibly rewarding and grounding. We live in a world that is so enveloped by technology and, for the average person, being out in the dirt and working with your hands is a rare thing.
It’s a unique profession in that I deal with horses more than I deal with people, and I’ve learned so much about them over the years. They are animals that operate on a universal language and they reflect everything back to us. If I’m stressed out or on edge while working on a horse, they feel my energy and can tense up on me.
It helps me be introspective, but also honest. There’s no sugarcoating how I’m doing, and ultimately, it has a positive effect on how I interact with others. I’ve become more aware of what’s going on inside me, and how that may affect the people around me.
GL: What is a major challenge of your profession? Have you ever been injured on the job?
BP: One of the biggest challenges is finding balance in doing the day-to-day work and running a business. Being a farrier is very physically demanding, but then there’s the other side of running a business – bookkeeping, handling the finances, being at a computer, etc.
Horses are also wild, yet domesticated animals, and weigh about 1,200 pounds on average. If you get stepped on, something is likely to get broken.
I’ve had minor injuries over the years – broken a foot from being stepped on, and cut my hand more than several times. The repetitive movement of the job wears on your shoulder over time. I’ve heard of people in their 60s and 70s in this profession that have had shoulder injuries or had to have shoulder surgery.
Overall, I’ve learned how to be in tune with horses over the years, what to do and what not to do, which helps cut down on injuries.
GL: You know we’re an outdoor adventure company, so we gotta ask. What is your dream adventure?
BP: One of my favorite things to do is ride horses, lest anyone think I just like to work on them! I’ve gone horseback riding in Alaska, Costa Rica, and countless other places. You actually get a lot closer to wildlife when you’re horseback than when you’re hiking, which I love.
Next on my list? Patagonia or Iceland.
Sounds amazing to us, Brelen! One of our favorite things here at Groove Life is inspiring adventure in the lives of others, and we’re confident you’re inspiring adventure just by doing what you do each and every day. Thank you for giving us insight into your day-to-day life as a farrier!