What exactly is a farrier? Are they a shoemaker, veterinarian or blacksmith? Well, they’re all three, yet also, none of the above! A farrier is considered a specialist in equine foot care, similar to how a podiatrist is a specialist in human foot care. Farriers use a wide range of technical skills and knowledge in order to care for the hooves of horses. These animal podiatrists primarily trim hooves, create custom horseshoes and also care for any disease or lameness of the hoof. Equids and bovids (such as goats, sheep, and cows) mostly depend on their legs and hooves to survive, so farriers provide an essential function to ensuring these animals remain healthy and functional, treating and maintaining each foot with special care.
The Zoo is lucky to have its own farrier, Dee Corley, attend to all matters hoof-related. As the primary caretaker of the Children’s Zoo Barnyard, I get the privilege or working with Dee on a monthly basis. A farrier for 34 years, Dee maintains high-level certifications and graduated at the top of her class from the Oklahoma Horseshoeing School. She began working for the Zoo over 20 years ago when her mentor, the previous Zoo farrier, retired. At the Zoo, she currently trims the hooves of the miniature donkeys, Nigerian dwarf goat herd and help shear our sheep twice a year. Dee also evaluates and trims the hooves of our Grevy’s zebras and okapi and even assisted with elephant foot care! Though she mentioned that the zebras are her favorite animal, Dee enjoys the opportunity to work with any equine species or subspecies to ensure their feet are healthy and well-maintained.
This wealth of knowledge and experience naturally stems from her passion for horses. Dee ran two stable businesses for 30 years, working daily to improve the lives and well-being of her horses through proper animal husbandry and foot care. She also currently owns 14 horses and works with clients on a daily basis. When asked why she works so hard, the answer was simple, “everyone needs good footing!”
– Courtney Tennison, primary animal caretaker