T. J. Overly is a resident of Ellsworth and a full time farrier who visits Beaver Island every six weeks or so to take care of resident horses. His work requires skills that combine a veterinarian’s knowledge, the art of blacksmithing, and a good deal of ‘horse whisperer’ blended in.
During his second year of pre-veterinarian college classes Overly took a course in horse shoeing. “After that class I thought to myself, ‘who wants to do this? It’s pretty tough work.’” said Overly.
A second course in the subject found him rethinking that decision. “I took horse shoeing part two and enjoyed the heck out of it.” It was then he made the decision to head off to Oklahoma City to a farrier school. After receiving training there, Overly began his work – part time at first – and also apprenticed for three years with an experienced farrier, an experience he found extremely valuable.
Working with animals that are over a ton can have its drawbacks, too. “Yes,” he laughs, “I’ve been kicked in the head a couple of times.”
Island resident Andy Kohls, owner of the horses Overly was working with, had the highest praise for his work. “If a horse isn’t moving right a good farrier often can tell you why,” said Kohls. She also noted that T.J.’s calm natured translated into well behaved horses during their required trims and shoeings.
To read more about the Island’s farrier, please see the upcoming September issue of