Best Farrier

Dusty Kraus, Kraus Farms

"Perfection is demanded in this job," says Dusty Kraus. After 25 years spent shoeing an average of 40 horses a week and watching his father and his uncle, both farriers, as he grew up, Dusty knows: "No foot, no horse." From Lipizzan to Thoroughbred, from trail riding to barrel racing, the demands on the horse must be considered, along with each animal's unique conformation. T-bars and pads, silicone filler and cushions, steel and forges (now propane instead of coal) -- these constitute vital elements, even though each shoe is still hand-shaped. The tough parts are the temperature extremes, the hundred sit-ups a day (to keep the muscles balanced), being stepped on and tripped by 1,000-pound animals, the sprained backs (routine), the replaced hips (two), the broken knee (one). "But a horse comes in sore and limping and we can help him, and it's gratifying." The Best Farrier, Dusty Kraus, says this with obvious love for the equine species.

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