I rode with the old man for several years after the incident I related earlier.. and I didn't really lie to him - I figured he didn't really mean it when he said, "If I teach you how to shoe a horse, will you go away & leave me alone?". He should have known me better than to accept my "Sure!" at face value.
Regardless - somehow, my farriery activities didn't reach my parents until after I was out of university for about 2 years. I didn't do much shoeing during the 5.5 years I was in university because I worked my way thru. I had a full-ride scholarship, but I had grown up with so much garbage from my birther about how I should be falling-down, kissing-the-earth grateful for every blessed thing she or anyone else "gave" me, I figured the 'free' scholarship was anything but, and the strings attached to it were as thick as hawser ropes used to tie ships to docks. So I turned down the full-ride scholarship, to the accompanyment of screams from the birther & foster father of "Are! You! CRA-ZY!?? You MUST BE CRA-ZY!!"
My reply was, "my pride of accomplishment is more important to me" and "When I've finished, I'll know I earned every iota of it, and I won't owe anyone a-ny-thing." Which quieted the screams to grumbles. (Don't let the door hit you in the fanny as you leave, hon(s).. ;-)
So I earned a BS in science, majoring in chemistry & minoring in math, physics, art, German, & Russian. Except for some loans & a couple of small grants, I paid for it all. I worked 3 jobs a year the entire time, subsisting on coffee, chocolate, salads, & a never-cooled pot of soup a week until I finished.
When I got out, I did not graduate, however - I had endometriosis so bad it nearly did me in several times & was sick with it the day of graduation. Which resulted in the U not "giving" me my diploma for several years after. A battle with another story for another day.
Regardless, after I got out of university, I found out just how much discrimination there is against females & Ndns.. and that gravel truckers were earning far more money than I was. So, after trying to 'make it' in a university environment for several years, I gave it up & apprenticed again as a farrier. Again, to the tune of screams from everyone that I "couldn't" do it.
The arguments included that (1) "such work would ruin me for having children". I shot back, "Bring me more horses then! Quick!" (2) "You've wasted all that work & time!" Me: "It's my work & time." (3) "No one will hire you!" Me: "They're already hiring me." (4) "People will think you're a freak!" Me: "As if I care"
They were on occasion right about (4).. & I dealt with it. Can't tell how many times some insecure male would say, "I'll bet your tits aren't real".. To which I would reply, "Well sure as Hell you aren't man enough to find out.." And the very occasional guy who tried found himself flat on the ground with me standing over him with a murderous look on my face - & he took the hint & scuttled away & left me alone.
Between when I started & when I finished, there were some 37 years of hard work, long days, & tremendous satisfaction in helping beautiful Sacred Dogs back to some comfortable condition - often able to go riding with their humans; or pulling a light cart. My clients ranged from backyard horses to multi-million-dollar show horses. The stories from those years are a book all their own.
Injuries? Many. I found more ways, & more creative ways, to get injured with horses than anyone cares to count. I had to quit in 1994 after I became too stiff from injuries to be able to dance with fractious horses any more. There are old horseshoers, & there are bold horseshoers, but there are blessed few old, bold horseshoers, as my dear friend Bruce B. Daniels would say.
Do I miss it? Constantly. If I weren't so stiff, I'd be very tempted to continue at it. But everything has a Season, & I've had mine. When a person has been stomped on, squashed into walls, thumped, & (very occasionally) bitten by horses & they still say they love horses, chances are excellent they really do. They've certainly earned believability in this regard. I do love horses. They made me a good living; gave me excellent stories; and we Lakhota don't call them Sacred Dogs for no reason. They are magnificent. Sunka Wakan Oyate, pilamiya ota ye.