Brian Crandall: The Art of the Horseshoe
Originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of SPOKE+BLOSSOM
Give him some shoes — horseshoes, that is — and Brian Crandall will turn them into works of art.
A popular farrier in the Grand Valley for more than 15 years, Crandall has also been forging a name for himself as a horseshoe sculptor.
They call him the Horseshoe Art Guy.
He’s used hundreds of shoes to create a yucca tree for a woman in Tucson, Arizona, and used a single horseshoe to create a hook. “I split the top of the shoe and make a heart out of the two pieces,” says Crandall.
Crandall, who lives with his wife Caren, their dog and five horses on a 40-acre farm in Loma, Colorado, sculpts to order. No two pieces are the same, and if a client has an idea, he’ll head over to his workshop, which is tucked away inside his stable area, pick from a variety of shoes and get busy with his forge and anvil.
“Right now, I’m working on a 6-foot-tall bull charging at you,’’ says Crandall, who does much more than simply weld together horseshoes. “For a while, that was okay,’’ he says, “but I’ve had more fun shifting the shapes of shoes to make what I make now.”
Crandall grew up near Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from Wittenberg University with degrees in biology and history. He recently had a gallery built on his property, a way to showcase his work to potential customers and keep plenty of art on-hand to take to shows around Colorado and other states. It’s filled with wine racks, candle holders, wall sculptures, occasional tables and much, much more — all created with used shoes of all sorts of shapes and sizes.
Crandall may have grown up in Ohio, but tasted the West as a kid when his parents used to take him and his brother to a dude ranch in Loveland.
“I absolutely fell in love with the mountains,” says Crandall. Then he fell in love with horses after working for a year at that same dude ranch.
He ended up buying a few horses and moved to Littleton to work as an environmental consultant. By 1999, Crandall had moved to Grand Junction and was so infatuated with riding he left the hazardous waste business he was in. He began raising, showing and breeding quarter-horses and Arabians, and he became a champion in several disciplines — prominent among them was the 2009 National Championship in Working Cow Horse.
“We had a lot of success competing, but it was costing a fortune to shoe our horses, so I decided to go to horseshoeing school so I could do it myself,’’ says Crandall.
So he did. In 2004, he took an eight-week course at Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School in Sacramento, California, and it paid off. In addition to handling his own horses, he started picking up outside work, and it blossomed into Brian Crandall Farrier Services. He says he has about 150 clients and takes care of about 400 horses in the Grand Valley, and some in Utah.
He’s also the founder and president of the Colorado Plateau Horsemen’s Hall of Fame, which honors horsemen, horsewomen and horses that have made significant contributions to the equine industry in Western Colorado and Eastern Utah.
For now, Crandall has managed to balance all his roles. However, he adds: “It would be nice to expand my art work. Shoeing is hard on your body, and so would it would be nice to back off on that a little when I’m ready. I also need to practice my skills so I’m good enough that the artwork sustains itself.”
For more information about Brian Crandall Farrier Services, call 970.260.6411 or visit briancrandallart.com.