No Foot, No Horse: High Plains Farrier Association to host second annual horse shoeing demo at Black Hills Stock Show 

Jake Stonefield forges a horseshoe. The South Dakota farrier is part of the High Plains Farrier Association, which will host its second horse shoeing demo at the Black Hills Stock Show Jan. 31. Photo courtesy Jake Stonefield.  
Horse Shoeing Demonstration

For the second year, the High Plains Farrier Association will have a horse shoeing demonstration at the Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City. 

On Jan. 31, 2023, a full day of horse shoeing demos and interaction will take place, with farriers making horse shoes, taking questions from the public, and talking about their trade. 

Demos will begin at 8 a.m., with a new forging and shoe making demo each hour. These shoes will be made: plates (fronts and hinds); bar shoes; concaves; keg shoe modifications; sliders and cowboy sliders; side bone shoes; and wedge shoes.  

Round table discussions will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with different topics relating to shoeing horses for different disciplines: barrel racing, ranch horses, working cow horses, and for shoeing horses with navicular and for traction in winter weather.  

It’s a way to share education with the horse-owning public, said Mark Jakopak, secretary of the High Plains Farrier Association.  

“We want to help people understand what can be done,” he said, “to increase knowledge and awareness.”  

An educated horse owner helps both his or her own horse, plus the farrier. Doing the job right is important to both, Jakopak said.  

During the demo day at the stock show, farriers will also discuss new technology in the horse shoeing world. Many of the High Plains Farriers Association members attended the International Hoof Care Summit last year, and learned things they can share with attendees.  

A lot of technology advances have been made that help horses, Jakopak said, things like heat sensors that are glued to the bottom of a horse’s hoof. When the horse is trotted, the sensors reveal a hoof pattern, which helps the farrier know what modifications are needed for the shoe. Plastic shoes are also new technology which the farriers can share.  

“There are so many modern products that can improve a horse,” he said, “and so many techniques and ideas that have been around since antiquity that we have forgotten.” He noted that before automobiles, when people relied on horses for transportation, the care was different. “Back when people had to count on these horses, their feet were better and (owners) took care of them more. Not because we thought less of our horses but because we needed them more.”  

The roundtable discussions are helpful for people, says Jake Stonefield, president of the association.  

Last year, “we had some really good conversations” during the demo at the stock show, Stonefield says. “We are able to give people explanations for why some things are done.” Between fifty and sixty people watched the demos and participated in the roundtable discussion at last year’s stock show.  

Educating the public is helpful, Jakopak said. For example, he noted that if a horse has laminitis, people assume there is no help for it. But there can be. “There is so much you can do with trimming, shoeing and regular care.”  

Letting the public know that farriers are a professional bunch and take their job seriously is part of the reason for the day-long demo, too.  

They hope to educate the public to know there are skilled professionals out there, Stonefield said. “For us, it’s not a beer money gig. It’s our livelihood and it’s all we do. We want owners and farriers to be more educated. We want to raise the bar, because in that scenario everybody wins.”  

Several farriers will work the demo; the four High Plains Farrier officers: Stonefield, Brandt, S.D.; Allan Voeller, Bismarck, N.D.; Amanda Marohl, Renner, S.D., and Jakopak, Rapid City are among them.  

At the demo this year, as one farrier makes a shoe, other farriers will be available to visit with the public.  

The hoof is vitally important to the success of the horse, Jakopak said. “No foot, no horse. You can’t say it enough.” 

In 2024, the High Plains Farrier Association hopes to add a horse shoe building contest to the Black Hills Stock Show. 

This year’s event begins at 8 a.m. in the Hubbard Feeds Show Ring in Barnett Field House at The Monument.