This Year’s Cast of Characters.

Every year in the Heartland we end up having some of the finest students that exist in the industry. I think we are blessed in this way because of the rules we set and the way that the school is run. If you read the website or watch the videos and think that this school is too hard or tough for you, you are probably right. There is a special quality of person that wants to be formed and tempered against the toughness of the Heartland curriculum. This leads intense, strong and serious people to come here. Makes our job fun.


Anyway, these folks are all amazing people. With that in mind, I thought it would be a great idea to give each a few paragraphs of blog so that you can get a chance to get to know them a little bit as well. If you are lucky enough, you might get to know them personally.


The first selection for this blog is a young lady from Cook, Nebraska. Her name is Dakota Hanley but I call her North Dakota, and she is an 18 year-old farrier in the making. Dakota was born in Kansas, but moved to Nebraska when she was 4. She lives with her family on a small acreage with all sorts of animals. Sounds like an Old McDonald sort of situation.


Every animal is great as far as North Dakota is concerned, but her passion and love for horses is extreme. Seven years ago there was a major tragedy where she lost her 21 month-old brother, and that time seemed to create a void that only horses could fill. Horses helped her to learn how to control her anger over the incident as well as learn patience. Horses became her best friends, and North Dakota wants a life that involves all things horse. Being a farrier is going to be a big part of that.


North Dakota has spent the last three years as a volunteer with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) and has been on some interesting and fulfilling missionary trips. She has travelled to Oaxaca, Mexico as well as several small domestic trips doing her missionary work.   One of her main goals is to pursue a career with CEF and becoming a great farrier will help her with this goal.


Last weekend we had a bonfire and cookout with the students at Cody’s farm. It is always a great time for them to have a break from the stress of school. North Dakota brought her guitar and did some singing for us as well. It was amazing. About 5 years ago her pastor showed her some stuff and she has been playing ever since. If you had heard her, you would have thought that she had been in formal lessons for a long time.


Right now, she is in the second week of school in the Heartland. She is doing very well and rising to the challenges presented. When she graduates in the early part of May, North Dakota plans on starting a small farrier business in and around Johnson County Nebraska, as well as work as an area director for CEF. If you have a chance to meet this young lady, you will know that here is a soul at peace with a love for the horse.


nailing up

knifing a foot

making tools

Enjoying the work

in the forge

Bit cold this morning as North Dakota gets ready to shoe.

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