I am 45 years old now. I passed the 10th grade in 1989 and started making horseshoes in 1990, I must be 15 or 16 years old then. In those days this profession was enough to pay the bills, I never felt the need to apply for an actual job.
I only deal with horseshoes, making and fixing them, that’s all. First, I buy the iron rods. I get it from the scrap dealer sometimes otherwise I have to buy it from a store. The bar is cut to length according to the type of shoe using shear blades. The softened metal is then wrapped around a block of steel in the shape of the shoe using custom-designed equipment. The horseshoe is heated in a forge until it is soft enough to shape with the hammer to fit the hoof, cooled by quenching it in water, and attached to the hoof with nails. The nails are readymade, I get them from Gujarat.
Earlier there was a lot of work, God was good to us. Now with small trucks and three-wheelers, use of horses and horse carts has dwindled to half of what it used to be. Earlier the brickkilns used horse and mule carts for loading and transporting bricks, that has almost stopped now. Now the carts have been replaced with tractor trolleys. Even farmers have shed the use of animals.
Now, it’s just four or five horses a day. But we are in God’s vicinity, he won’t let us go hungry. I have two brothers; they are in the same profession, but they also do blacksmithing along with this. They have their own workshops. I haven’t been able to gather sources to start something else. So here I am, by the road, doing the only job I know. Everything has become so expensive these days, it wasn’t like this a decade ago.
I have a daughter and a son. Daughter is studying in the 12th grade and my son is in 10th. I do not want my children to be in this profession. They don’t like it either. A quote keeps coming to my mind “It is like a snake has swallowed a chameleon and now it can neither swallow it nor spew it.”. The younger generation does not want to struggle like this. I have been sailing through the hardships of poverty to support my family. May God bless the children. I hope they get a job and our days turn around.
Story – Satdeep Gill