SIERRA VISTA — Jolean Hoffman spends a good portion of her day bent over, looking down at horses’ hooves.
It’s all in a day’s work.
As a farrier, Hoffman travels throughout Cochise County trimming horses, sometimes as many as 10 animals a day.
She has found success in a male-dominated field where she specializes in hoof care for unshod, or barefoot horses. While she acknowledges there are horses that benefit from shoes — some need the extra protection for physiological reasons and others because of how they’re used — Hoffman prefers the more natural, barefoot option whenever possible.
“It’s about what’s best for the individual horse,” she said. “There are always going to be exceptions, but for the most part, horse’s hooves are healthier when they’re maintained with regular trims and the horse is allowed to go barefoot,” noted Hoffman, who has been a farrier for about 20 years and trims between seven and 10 horses a day.
Born and raised in the Tombstone area, Hoffman started riding horses at a young age, on her grandparents’ ranch near the Dragoon Mountains.
She grew up competing in 4-H horse shows and riding the trails of southeastern Cochise County.
“I started riding one of my grandparents’ ranch horses when I was 4, so horses have always been a big part of my life. Getting into this profession was like an extension of something I was already familiar with,” she said.
When Hoffman decided she was interested in getting into horseshoeing, she enrolled in a Cochise College farrier science course back when Mark Knox was the program’s instructor.
After she completed the class, Knox approached Hoffman about an apprenticeship opportunity, which she accepted. The rest is history.
“It was a great learning experience for me,” she said. “As a new farrier just starting out, working for Mark helped me get my name out there and make contacts.”
Knox eventually left the area through the military when his wife — an Army veterinarian working on Fort Huachuca — was reassigned. Hoffman absorbed most of his clients, which made for a seamless transition from apprentice to career.
In fact, Hoffman is no longer accepting new customers, as she now has a well-established client base.
“She’s an excellent farrier with a very solid reputation,” said Eileen Swiers, who has been one of Hoffman’s clients since 2006. “She’s patient, and has always developed a really good relationship with all my horses.”
Swiers also spoke highly of Hoffman’s professionalism.
“She makes appointments ahead of time, and is always on time for those appointments. She has a level of professionalism I have never seen with the male farriers I’ve used in the past.
“Her professionalism is something I’ve always appreciated.”
Cindy Normandeau, owner of High Desert Stables in Hereford, also uses Hoffman’s services.
“I have between 15 and 20 barefoot horses at my facility, and Jolean handles all the hoof-care needs for those animals,” Normandeau said. “Jolean does a great job of keeping them in shape. She is a very knowledgeable and talented horsewoman and has attended college to study her craft.
“She gets to know her clients’ horses and genuinely cares about them, which means a lot.”
When Hoffman isn’t working upside-down under a horse, she enjoys riding, hunting, camping and even tends bar part time at Four Deuces Saloon in Tombstone.
“I bartend one night a week and on some of the busy event weekends,” she said. “We get a lot of regulars there, so it’s fun seeing the same people all the time.”
While bartending is a nice change of pace, Hoffman says her passion will always be the horses.
“I love all the horses I work with. The people are great, and the horses are great.”