Mustad: Congratulations on receiving the 2020 Rising Shoeing Star award. You are making a big impact so early in your career. You are now an AFA Certified Journeyman Farrier, and you are only four years into your career.
Gilad Friedman: Thank you. The award is an honor. You have some great farrier schools here in America. I’ve learned a lot in school and been fortunate to ride along with great teachers like Dusty Franklin, Travis Burns, Joey Hite, and Carl Via.
M: I know you were born and raised in Israel. How did you make your way to the states?
GF: I’ve been riding all of my life growing up in Israel. I was eight years old when I noticed a farrier shoeing horses. I was fascinated. But it wasn’t until after six years in the military that I considered it as a career. I was able to ride along with a farrier for three months, and I loved it. I came to California to go to the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School with a plan to build a business back in Israel, but I met my wife here, and we both felt there was more opportunity for both of us here.
M: You’ve shoed horses all across the country: California, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, North Carolina, and now Virginia. How is it different from shoeing in Israel?
GF: Israel has a very dry environment, similar to New Mexico here. That means the hoof is harder and moves less, but it’s also harder to rasp and nail. Also, everything is smaller in Israel. Horses don’t get acres of pasture to run around. We typically let them exercise in pens.
M: What horses do you typically working with?
GF: I work on a lot of thoroughbred eventers. I love working with these horses because they do such a variety of things, such as jumping, dressage and then they run like maniacs in cross country. It keeps it exciting and challenging by forcing me to consider many aspects, such as how much steel I use to improve performance.
M: What type of horseshoes do you use to improve performance?
GF: I found that bigger horseshoes work better for thoroughbred eventers because they offer more support, and I get a better shape. I love Mustad’s Equi-Librium AIR; it’s my favorite shoe. Thoroughbreds have pretty straight quarters, and the Equi-Librium AIR is easier to shape for those feet. All I have to do is tighten or open the toe and then bring in the branches. I used to use the Kerckhaert Comfort horseshoes, but then someone told me, “if you like those, try the Mustad Equi-Librium AIR.” Once I tried them, I realized that they had a better shape, better nail pitch, and what I liked the most is that they had a lot of material which gives me more flexibility. I can fuller it, cut it, grind it, and reset it once or twice. It just gives me way more options.
Also, I really like the quarter clips on that shoe because it helps me fit the toe correctly. It’s much better than having to slide the shoe all the way back and then not having a defined shape in the toe. For the hinds, I like to use the Delta Challenger TS8 and the St. Croix Forge CrossOver.
Mustad Equi-Librium AIR Front
M: What about horseshoe nails? Do you have a preference?
GF: The Mustad Concave are my favorite nails. I just like the way they drive and fit into the shoe. I never have a problem with them shearing, and when I go to pull the nail after a shoeing cycle, the nail is in good condition, unlike other brands of nails that wear out really fast, and you can barely grab them. My horses work really hard, and it’s good to see that the nail material is still there to secure the shoe is on tightly and doesn’t shift. It’s a versatile nail that works on a large variety of horseshoes. I also like to use the Delta Combo 5 Slim nail for handmade shoes or narrow fullered shoes.
Mustad Concave Horseshoe Nails
M: I know you compete at the WCB. Do you switch tools for the contest? And how has competing at the WCB helped you as a farrier?
GF: I really like to compete at the WCB. This season I’m going to try to be at all of their events. Right now, I’m preparing for the Madison, WI contest, which is in August. It’s an amazing event, and I learn a lot from competing. You don’t put on handmade shoes every day or do all the advanced forging work required at the contests. But it always comes down to the basics, it’s about nail placement, horseshoe shape, and it teaches me to be efficient. Competing at the WCB allows me to see things differently and be more productive in my everyday horseshoeing. Regarding products, I switch my daily Heller eXcel Original rasp to the Heller eXcel Legend because I like the finishing side.
M: Have you met a Mustad team member at any of the contests?
GF: I met David York (Mustad Southeast Sales Rep) at the 2020 Hot Augusta Farrier Contest, and we hit it off right away. He came over with samples for the competitors and had a booth at the event. I was interested in different products, and he was knowledgeable. Now we communicate all the time via Facebook Messenger. I send him feedback and pictures of horseshoes, especially if I get a third reset.
Gilad Friedman, David York, Jared Brown, Rachael Millard.
M: Has David York helped you in any way?
GF: As farriers, we are often afraid of changes, and every farrier has the horseshoes he likes to use, and in many cases, it’s the same horseshoe we start with. Meeting David encouraged me to try new things, and it opens my mind. It allows me to see how feet react and measure how easy it was to shape compared to other products. David gave me some St. Croix Forge CrossOver shoes, which I would have never picked up, and now I’m definitely stocking up on those horseshoes.
St. Croix Forge CrossOver Hind
M: That’s great to hear. Has Covid had an impact on your contests, schedule, or farrier business?
GF: It only affected the scheduling for the Journeyman exam. As far as my everyday practice, it has even gotten better. People have been staying at home more and spending more time with their horses. People also seem to be buying more horses and putting shoes on horses that used to be barefoot. I’ve been lucky to grow my business during the pandemic.
M: Since you are new to Virginia, was it hard to find new customers?
It has been a hectic summer; I have a small business page on Facebook, and word of mouth has been effective. I do my best with every horse, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a trail riding horse for a little girl or a big eventer horse that shows every other weekend. I always put all my energy into every job and share my passion for horseshoes, and I think horse owners appreciate that.
M: Yes, I’m sure your customers recognize your work ethic and professionalism. As a farrier, how would you rate Mustad?
GF: I see how much effort Mustad puts into the everyday farrier. The educational videos, articles, social media posts, and showing up at all the events. It just feels like the Mustad family is always there, unlike other companies. Not many companies invest the time, effort, and money in talking to everyday farriers, and at the end of the day, it shows in the products.
M: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. We wish you good luck at the WCB Madison contest, and we look forward to following your exceptional farrier career for many years.