For someone who writes, there is always a person in our life that is so colorful one can’t help but believe that they must have been born for no other reason than our character sketch. Our farrier, Jake is just one such person. Now obviously I don’t believe that is the only reason for his life, but it is for certain, I had to write about him.
Jake was recommended to us by a friend that had often used him to shoe her horses over the years. I will never forget her description of Jake. “He’s this big, huge guy, with gigantic, tattooed muscles and to tell you the truth, he is a little scary when you first see him; but he does a really good job!” she said. Now my friend is just a little thing, so maybe that is why Jake seemed so huge to her…I have a nephew that is 6’8”, one that is 6’5” and a son that is 6’3”, so when I finally met Jake, he didn’t seem so big to me. Scary? Uh uh. Well, maybe if I met him in a dark alley, he might seem a little intimidating.
Jake is a Sioux Indian with dark skin and a long pony tail, which without, he would not be true to his heritage and identity. Yeah, he has a few tattoos and he might be a little gruff and rough around the edges, but underneath it all, we have learned this guy has a heart of gold.
I will never forget the first time he came to shoe our horse, Lady. The people that we bought Lady from warned us that Lady didn’t typically like men. She was a lady’s horse, they said. Over time, we learned this was indeed true. We always believed the reason she took to Matt so well, was because he was young when we got her, and he didn’t yet seem like a man. But right off the bat, I knew Jake and Lady would do just fine when I saw Lady giving him soft nuzzles while he talked to us about what he would be doing. Seeing this big, tough guy reciprocate those nuzzles revealed a great deal about who this man really was.
Some of our conversations have helped us understand Jake is a man that cares greatly about his craft, but also about his customers and most of all the horses. Another time I was able to see this side of Jake was when he proudly showed us a piece of jewelry hanging from the rearview mirror in his truck. The daughter of one of his customers had made it for him offered with some kind words that caused him to hold on affectionately to that item. He proudly talked about it to us and others as well, I am sure. When Matt was younger, Matt had made a horse shoe belt buckle for Jake for much the same reasons; and Jake accepted the gift in the same manner of appreciation.
Jake is one of the best farriers we have known. He is one of the few that the local vets request due to his experience and knowledge. He is thorough, quick and neat. He can do a horse’s shoes in about a half the time as anyone else and the horse's feet will look much better!
Like most people, he admits to little patience with knot-head horses, so I was somewhat worried when it was time to call him to come trim Skeeter’s feet. Matt has been working with Skeeter so he will become more accustomed to having his feet worked on, but Skeeter is still not quite ready to be shod. I was afraid Jake would be disappointed after being so impressed with Lady. When Matt called him, I realized my fear was in vain as Jake assured Matt he wanted to come when he had plenty of time to spend so as to allow Skeeter to get to know him. He also wanted to have the time to try some things that would help Skeeter through it. I should have known. I love to see that kind of commitment to ones job.
Skeeter was trimmed up in no time, and as we suspected, Jake recommended we wait on the shoes, offering Matt some tips to help Skeeter get ready for it. This type of professionalism and dedication is exactly what makes us so glad my friend recommended the “scary guy with the tattoos” …and the heart of gold.