Horseshoeing isn't a career that many young people think about these days. But that's the line of work a woman from Honeoye Falls has decided to pursue.
"I always enjoyed being around horses and having a career within horses is what I've always wanted to do," said Gwen Nardi.
Gwen is a professional farrier, not a blacksmith. A blacksmith makes horseshoes while a farrier is more an expert in equine foot care.
"We have keg shoes or stock shoes that we typically use so we don't actually create any of our own supplies,” she explained. “We don't melt down the metal or anything like that, we just use preshaped iron."
When visiting a client, Gwen does more than just apply new shoes to a horse. She also does hoof inspections.
"We have to look at the horses angles, we have to look at is the horse sound, what job does the horse do. So we have to take everything into account and kind of put that together," Gwen said.
Although she’s been horseshoeing for about four years Gwen only became a certified journeyman a couple of months ago. And that's the highest level of certification within the American Farrier's Association.
After graduating from Honeoye Falls-Lima High School, Gwen enrolled at the Kentucky Horseshoeing School in Lexington. She is the only member of her class to graduate with the highest distinction.
Very few women enter this field. At age 22, Gwen is the youngest woman in the United States to be certified as a journeyman farrier.
"I think most people are impressed,” she said. “We think of the horses as being very strong, very agile creatures. So to be able to work underneath them is great."
But it can be a dangerous job. Horses have minds of their own and there is always the risk of being bitten or kicked.
"I've been kicked, I've been kicked a fair amount,” said Gwen. “But it's been luckily the way I position myself it's not a full blown kick, it's more of a swipe."
Gwen runs her own business and has thousands of dollars invested in equipment.
Many of her clients are in the Rochester area, however Gwen sees horses regularly in Syracuse, Pennsylvania and Virginia; an indication that she is good at what she does.
American Farrier's Association