To say Ashley Pederson has an affinity for interesting jobs would be an understatement. The 30-year-old has tried her hand at everything from cowboying to logging. However, it is her skill and experience as a farrier that keeps her active in the Elk Valley throughout the summer.
“Next to logging, we actually have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world because all it takes right now, if this horse is upset, if my dog jumps out from under the truck, he could rip my artery out with one of these nails, and not mean to,” she told The Free Press while shoeing horses in Cokato.
Pederson, who grew up in Shellbrook, Sask., now operates her own business, Timberlost Farrier Service and Training. The name, Timberlost, is an homage to an area in Saskatchewan, where her family had a homestead and she spent much of her childhood. She admits that she didn’t have much experience with horses growing up and it wasn’t until her alternate education plans fell through that she thought about working with them for a career.
“I never had anything to do with horses really. I had horses when I was a kid – my dad had them and they were just around on the farm. I was supposed to go into school for kinesiology and I was a percent and a half short. A guy came and trimmed my dad’s horses and he made pretty good money in about half an hour. I thought, let’s try it.”
She applied to Olds College online and remembers having an interesting interview for the program. Having little knowledge about horses, she believed she wouldn’t be admitted.
“I remember in my interview, a guy asked me about a horse, and he said, tell me about this horse, and I looked at it, and said, it’s not mine, I don’t know what you want to know,” she said. “I went home and was defeated. He phoned and says well, you don’t know what you’re doing so you don’t have any bad habits or biased opinions, nothing – we can teach you from scratch, right from the start. And that is how I got started, and I just went right to college and stumbled right into it.”
Pederson completed the year-long program, including a 650-hour apprenticeship, that year and spent hours learning from watching other people, including an old rancher in the United States.
“I went to New Mexico and I worked under a man named Jim Keith and he was 73 when he taught me to shoe. It was great. I went down there in August and September. I did 400 hours with him and the rest I completed in Calgary.”
After obtaining her training, she began working around horses and mules in a variety of ways, including ranching and packing mules and donkeys into the Rocky Mountains, around Jasper and Banff. Because of her time spent with mules and donkeys, she has grown a strong love for those specific animals.
“Mules and donkeys are my thing. People are actually bringing them from across the country for me to work on,” she said.
Pederson has been working in the East Kootenays for six years, and lived in Sparwood before relocating to Invermere. She has an extensive client list and covers an area spanning 350-kilometres.
“I come down every two weeks to look after everyone. I go all the way up to Elkford and I go to Briscoe, B.C. I cover about 350-km of highway. That’s because people prefer me to whoever is there,” she said.
Shoeing horses is a traditionally male-dominated profession, but Pederson said some of her clients prefer her because she is female.
“Of my clients, about 90 per cent are female. They just feel that you can relate to the horses a little bit better, that you have a little bit more patience, which really depends on the person,” she said. “Male or female, it really does not matter. You just have to have a good connection with the horses and communicate with your clients.”
She does add a personal touch to the some of the horses she works with by adding sparkle nail polish to their hooves. Pederson, and Timberlost Services can be contacted at 250-420-1873 for more information on her services and when her next visit to the Elk Valley will be.