How Far Can A Horse Take You?  

Kayla Shepherd owes a lot to the bottom of a horse’s foot: her career, of course. But also her marriage, her strong personal network, her thriving farm, and, ultimately, the world. “It's the horse and all the opportunities the horse has provided. I wouldn’t have any of that without that animal. I’m fortunate that I can make a difference for them and make them comfortable.”

Ironically, her story started when she sold her horses to go to farrier school.

Kayla Sheperd CJF

After riding at her grandma’s, she’d bought her first horse with her own money when she was sixteen. She’s purchased every horse she’s owned since. “Because I’ve never had somebody pay for my horse, I’ve kept motivated.” Soon, she’d acquired six but couldn’t find anyone to shoe them. So in order to shoe her horses, she had to sell her horses.

“Since I’ve turned 21 all I’ve focused on is the bottom of a horse’s foot and my career. I want to be the very best I can be.”

Putting Down Roots In Tennessee

After farrier school, her focus took her to Shelbyville, Tennessee where she apprenticed with John Schmidt for a little over four years. “He’s one of the people I still look up to. If I have any questions about anything, he’s there for me.”

In those years, she also met her husband, Lyle. They attended many of the same clinics and competitions but hadn’t spoken, partly because she was so in the zone. At a certification with Daniel Jones in Fair Hope, Alabama, Lyle came over to her and said, “You look really nervous. You want a beer.” She did, and things built from there. Soon, they were deciding where they wanted to practice and decided on middle Tennessee because of the abundance of horses.

He kicked her Dalmatian Jane out of the cab of her farrier rig and now they work together three days a week. (Two days a week, she works alone while Lyle works with John Schmidt.) She sees a lot of pros to working as a couple, especially with someone who shares your style, goals, and skill level.  “I couldn’t ask for anybody better to work with.” But the drives between barns do involve some negotiation, especially about radio stations and lunch options.

Kayla and Lyle

Wife and husband team, Kayla and Lyle work together on all size feet.


Success by Association

In middle Tennessee, she became active in the farrier association, starting as a reluctant but successful competitor and, when she realized how supportive the association is, quickly becoming its President. Holding that post has enabled her to become friends with some of the finest farriers in the country. When farriers come to town for competitions or certifications, she and Lyle host them at their home. They start meals talking shop and often end them talking about their lives. “They’ve become my farrier family,” she said.

The couple hosts guests on their farm. There, her success as a farrier has allowed Kayla to breed horses and Dalmatians. Because they were originally bred to run beside—and protect—carriages, the dogs are a natural fit for horses.

It’s Ultimately About the Horse. And the Horse Shoes.   

Kayla continues to build her business. Her strategy is the simple one: do what’s best for the horse and keep learning. She then leverages social media to get the word out. She’s become so busy she may have to direct some clients to friends.

When it all comes down to the horse, it really comes down to the metal you put on the horse. She’s a big fan of the Mustad LiBeros which her Mustad rep David York recently gave her—“They’re amazing! I love those”— and Mustad Endura and Concave nails. “I don’t like to take a keg shoe and do a whole lot of work on it. If I have to back punch all my nails and do a lot of adjustments because the section isn’t appropriate for the foot I’m putting it on, the shoe might as well be handmade. Fortunately, Mustad’s have graduated sections and sizes and the nail punch is really nice.” She also typically gets more resets out of Mustad products.

Mustad LiBero fronts and hinds, Endura nails, Concave nails, and Heller eXceL Legend rasp.

Mustad LiBero fronts and hinds, Endura nails, Concave nails, and Heller eXceL Legend rasp.


But her favorite Mustad family product might be the Heller eXceL Legend rasp. “The green rasp is all I use. When they had a temporary backorder, I was digging them out and getting them resharpened.”

David recently gave her the new Comfort Mix Hoof Cushion, and she was impressed enough to add it to her tool kit. “I use the Supersoft in a lot of my sore-footed horses without the fear of it setting up too hard or making a mess.”

She is also impressed with David. “He’s there for us. He’s been a really good resource for middle Tennessee. If I need something or have any questions, he’ll answer it and he’ll answer it right away.”    


Kayla Sheperd David York

Kayla Shepherd, David York, and Lyle Shepherd.


Along the way to the husband, the home, the business, the horses, and the dogs, Kayla spent three months in England as a part of an exchange program sponsored by the American Farriers Association. To even be considered for the opportunity, which only a few farriers earn every year, she had to complete her journeyman certification. She was chosen for the coveted, three-month residency, taking her to Scotland and then to the south of England. It was a highlight of her career, and the friends she made there are now friends for life.

So the answer to the question, how far can a horse take you? From Tennessee to Scotland. Or just short of 4,000 miles.   

We are here to help.

Contact our sales team for more information about any of the Mustad family of farrier products.


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