Albert Lea man is sole proprietor of farrier business
Horses play many roles in society. They are ridden for recreation, race and fulfill work functions. One rural Albert Lea man is helping nearly 200 horses fulfill their calling.
Clay Levine is a farrier and sole proprietor of Levine’s Farrier Service. He places steel shoes on the bottoms of horses’ feet and trims their feet on site. As the sole proprietor of the operation, Levine takes care of about 190 horses in an area from the Twin Cities to Mason City, to Rochester and west of Albert Lea.
“The horses I take care of generally are not really working, they’re playing,” he said.
“We trim them. If they need protection, we can make shoes that add protection, traction. Or we shoe them therapeutically, which means we help them if they have a lameness problem. We try to help them out.”
Levine said he evaluates the conformation of the horse.
“Our goal is to balance the horse’s foot,” he said. “Most horses are not ideal in their conformation, which means they are usually off somewhere. So we are
always helping them get back to balance.”
Horses that are not asked to do anything are trimmed and left barefoot, and shoes are placed on barrow horses.
It takes about 1 1/2 hours to shoe a horse and about 20 minutes to trim all four feet.
“It’s a challenge,” Levine said. “Every horse is different. It makes me innovative.”
Levine said each shoe he makes has to be different to suit the needs of the horse.
Levine plans to have an apprentice at some point. His wife, Anna, and two children — Jayden, 7, and Kendra, 3 — will sometimes hand him tools as he works.
Though January and February are slow months for him, Levine expects to work 12 to 16 hours a day during the summer. Despite the long days, however, Levine views the sacrifices he makes as worth it.
“It’s lucrative, for one,” he said. “You have so many people that trust you with your horses, because you have to build trust with your clients. And so, for me, I want to take care of their horses.”
Levine was born in Albert Lea and went to school in Blooming Prairie. He is practicing to get certified from the American Farrier’s Association, a certification he said will make him better at his job.
“What you learn from the process of passing the test is what I am looking to gain,” he said. “The knowledge; it is very hard to pass. There are only 2 or 3 percent of farriers who have ever passed the highest level of it. It’s a challenge, and I will be better for trying to pass it and/or passing it.”
Levine is passionate about his job. He also trims cattle.
“The passion I have is helping horses move better,” he said. “Seeing the satisfaction of the horse doing its job. I have a passion for getting better in all aspects of farrying … it’s just seeing that horse doing its job well … taking horses that are hurting and making them sound or feel better.”
Address: rural Albert Lea
Livelihood: sole proprietor of Levine’s Farrier Service
Family: wife, Anna; and two children, Jayden and Kendra
Interesting fact: Levine has three quarter horses