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Local farriers visit DCHS, teach students about shoeing horses
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Local farrier Morgan Hurst cleans and files a student’s horse’s hooves during a horse shoeing demonstration at DCHS on Oct. 27. - photo by Erica Jones

On Thursday Oct. 27, two local farriers visited Dawson County High School to teach the juniors and seniors in an animal science class all about shoeing horses. 

Morgan Hurst and Derek Perry, both of whom are farriers with the Georgia Professional Farriers Association, talked through the anatomy of a horse’s hooves and techniques for cleaning and shaping a horse’s hooves, making a horseshoe custom fit to the horse, and correctly nailing the shoe to the horse’s hoof. Students were able to watch each step in real time as Hurst and Perry demonstrated on one of the students’ horses, Lady. 

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Local farrier Derek Perry forges a custom horse shoe during a horse shoeing demonstration at DCHS on Oct. 27. - photo by Erica Jones

First, Hurst cleaned the horse’s hooves, filing them down to remove sharp edges. He then measured the hooves and Perry created custom shoes for the horse using the forge and variety of blacksmith tools they had brought with them. Hurst then demonstrated how to nail the shoes to the horse’s hooves, clip off the sharp ends of the nails and file down the nails to finish with a smooth surface on each hoof. 

Hurst and Perry have been working as farriers for nearly 30 years and 27 years respectively. Hurst said that he first started into the trade as a way to earn money to put himself through school, but decided to take it up full time. 

“We had had horses growing up and I had kind of started shoeing horses to help pay for school, and then I found out that I was a better horse-shoer than I was a student,” Hurst said. 

Keith Pankey, who teaches the animal science class at the high school, said that a demonstration like the one Hurst and Perry brought to his students is useful in many more than just one way. 

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Local farrier Morgan Hurst nails a new shoe to a horse’s hoof during a horse shoeing demonstration at DCHS on Oct. 27. - photo by Erica Jones

“This covers the kids who are interested in the metalworking aspect, you’ve got the livestock aspect, you’ve got the anatomical and the veterinary aspect of it,” Pankey said. 

While his animal science class isn’t centered on equine science, he said that the industry is a big one in Georgia, and several of his students either have horses already or hope to go into a similar field to Hurst and Perry. 

"This being the animal science class, equine is not one of our big centers, but equine is big in Georgia as far as recreational horses,” Pankey said. “Cherokee County is one of the largest equine producers in the state and it’s a several million dollar industry in Georgia.” 

For his animal science classes, Pankey added that he always tries to bring in hands-on, interesting demonstrations and activities for his students to learn from. In the past, this has included bringing in llamas to discuss alternative livestock and spending a day with a local large animal veterinarian. This is the first time that he’s had a farrier demonstrate shoeing a horse to his students, he said, and he was pleased with how the demonstration turned out.