Submitted by Ashley Gasky, Team Easyboot 2015 Member
Deanna Stoppler AF is a member of the 2015 Easyboot Elite team. She is among 5 other elite professionals charged with the task of gluing on boot shells to equine competitors at the 2015 Tevis Endurance race.
Deanna began her hoof care career in 2011, riding with a local farrier, then completing a semester at Mission Farrier School(MFS) in May of 2012. After MFS, Deanna began coursework with Daisy Haven Farm: School of Integrative Hoofcare and has 137 hours in coursework to her credit. Currently she maintains a busy schedule; trimming, shoeing in metal and plastic, glues on shoes, and sizing for EasyCare boots. An average month will have her working on upwards of 160 horses.
Deanna lives and works in Fairfax, Vermont with her husband, Dave, three dogs, and two horses. Growing up in Alberta, Canada she has an affinity for the cooler northern climates, and actually complains about the hot summers of Vermont, though she appreciates having four solid seasons and the awesome autumn landscape.
Living in a rural community has provided Deanna with a sense of small town loyalty and camaraderie."You can find good coffee almost anywhere in the state; small general stores that have been around for over 100 years, where owners know their customers by name and it's easy to find fresh baked cinnamon buns if you stop first thing in the morning", she claims.
From the small family farms, bounty of horses, and rugged scenery to look at as she drives from barn to barn, or to explore on days off, she enjoys the sweet offerings of Vermont life. Maple syrup is a Vermont tradition, and one that Deanna and family are happy to support.
When asked to choose three of the greatest influences to her hoof care practice Deanna names Mark Plumlee, Daisy Bicking, and Esco Buff. Mark Plumlee, owner and instructor of Mission Farrier School, taught Deanna everything she needed to know to get out in the workplace and start a farriery business. "He taught me confidence, how to speak to clients, and how to manage a successful farrier business." she notes.
Daisy Bicking, owner of Daisy Haven Farm, "advanced my trimming skill set and helped me approach founder in a new way" says Deanna. "She taught me more about gluing on plastic shoes and how to approach my trim using radiographs as a tool". Deanna and Daisy traveled to Lagos, Nigeria in 2013 to shoe polo ponies and educate the local farriers.
Deanna credits Esco Buff with continuing her radiography skill set and helping her think about trimming and shoeing in regard to whole horse balance.
While the challenges of being a farrier, and running a hoof care business are many, Deanna lists three she perceives to be the most influential:
1. Horse obesity and founder as a result. If I can teach the owners to be proactive before their horse has a problem, that’s most of the battle, often though I find that horses that are obese are not necessarily viewed by the owner as obese. It’s difficult to change that owner mind set.
2. Moisture. We live in a very wet environment in Vermont. The feet take a beating with humidity and wet conditions. I look forward to working on CA feet at the Tevis Cup. Dry hooves=heaven!
3.Trying to help the horse while navigating through different theoretical approaches about hoof care with veterinarians. Not all approaches are the same and it can be tricky meeting on common ground."
In the excitement building up to Tevis 2015 Deanna is most excited to experience the camaraderie of the elite team. Stating "I’m very excited to spend the days working side by side with professionals as passionate as myself. To focus on a common goal with a group of talented farriers. To feeling the excitement as prepare horses' feet for the grueling 100-mile race. Team memories being made. Can't wait!"
The proudest moment of Deanna's hoof care career came as a result of her trip to Nigeria.
"After I returned home, one of the farriers that I had worked with, Bello Gali, sent me an email with a photo of a foot that he had mapped and shod. I was very proud that he was reflecting on his work and felt it was important to share with me. From the photo is was obvious that he had retained the information I taught him. I will never forget the happiness of seeing that photo and how proud I felt."
You may have met Deanna, perhaps more than once, or even had her work on your horses, but did you know she HITCHHIKED from Maine, USA to Alberta, Canada during a college break? It was an exciting, frightening, and unforgettable journey. Be sure to ask her why this is her favorite song.