District farrier tackling shortage

Sam Odrowski

Trimming a horse’s hooves is a difficult task and with a lack of farrier services being offered locally, many are opting to do it themselves.
Jenna Jarvis, 22, is one of the few who provide the service and has been doing so for about a year now.
In June of 2017 she returned to the district after graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in Science and Equine Management from Hartpurty College in England and learned there were only two farriers who would visit the area.
Jarvis, who hails from north of Rainy River, said neither of them were local, with one travelling here from Thunder Bay and the other from Dryden, which created a large demand for farrier services in the region.
Shortly after her return, one of the farriers stopped visiting the district and Jarvis said she felt like she had to step up to fill the gap.
“I had done my own horses for a long time, so people started asking me and it was just kind of went from there,” she remarked.
One of the key things Jarvis has learned during her time as a farrier was the sheer amount of horses living in the district.
“There’s a lot more horses around here then I thought there was,” she noted.
“They’re not necessarily used for jobs or riding or working but there are a lot around,” added Jarvis.
Jarvis said one of the most rewarding parts of running the farrier business is seeing the difference it makes in the lives of the horses and their owners that she serves.
“When its your first appointment you’re presented with a horse that is lame, or sore, it has a hard time getting around,” she explained.
“It’s not always right away, sometimes it is, but helping them and seeing them come back, maybe four cycles later and they’re walking normal.”
“You get to see that they’re happier and healthier, and then the owners reactions as well,” Jarvis added.
“People are really appreciative and I think that’s probably my favourite part.”
When looking at wild horses, Jarvis said they wouldn’t ever need to have their hooves trimmed because they generally trot 20 miles a day and trim them down naturally.
“But a lot of the horses people own nowadays are kept in pastures or pens or stalls and they don’t get that movement to wear them down so they need to be manually trimmed,” Jarvis explained
“If there’s a problem with your horses feet, your not going to be able to ride it,” she added.
“It’s probably, I would say, one of the most important things to maintain properly,” said Jarvis.
Most of Jarvis’ clients have their horses trimmed once every five or six weeks and she also does rehabilitation services.
In addition to her studies at Hartpurty College, she also studied breeding production and equine science at Olds College in Alberta.
From her education Jarvis has developed a wealth of knowledge in horse care.
Although she has graduated from school, she said she never stops learning about horses and spends a lot of her time reading up on the subject.
One of the more challenging parts about the farrier service is catering to the specific needs of each horse, Jarvis noted.
“The animals are all individuals too so something that works on one might not work on the other, like you kind of have to treat it case by case,” she explained.
“There’s no textbook way to treat every horse I encounter,” added Jarvis.
Another challenge associated with job is the incredible size of the district.
“I’ve had some people closer to Sioux Lookout and even like Sioux Narrows want to get me out but I can’t really,” Jarvis said.
“There’s not enough horses to make it worth the trip.
“The other thing too is it’s pretty physically demanding,” she added.
People frequently tell Jarvis to be careful because she might lose her back when she get’s a little older.
“I try my best to keep the right posture and I have a stand that helps so it’s not so demanding but some days I do feel it in my wrists and my back,” she admitted.
Jarvis’ list of clientele is relatively small and she hopes to keep it that way going forward.
“I honestly like that I don’t have a ton of clients because I can pay more attention and take more time with the horses that I do have,” she said.
In the future, Jarvis hopes to offer an umbrella of equine services locally.