WomenVenture loan client Valerie Poyer is the founder and owner of Many Hooves.
In an industry dominated by men, one woman from Madagascar has been shoeing Minnesota horses with the goal of empowering women to become successful in their horseshoeing careers: Valerie Poyer. Valerie began tending to horses as a young girl on her native island home, which later brought her across the sea to ride horses in Paris, France. At the age of 19, she found herself in Minnesota, working in management until she couldn’t stop thinking about turning her passion for horses into a lifelong career. That’s when her friend asked, “Hey, why don’t you become a farrier?”
In May 2015, Many Hooves was born. With a loan from her friend, Valerie began the long journey to her current success as a businesswoman and farrier to over 200 horses. She went back to school for two years and apprenticed with a number of different farriers. “Farriering is an art, as well as a science,” Valerie says. “Just like people’s feet, every horse foot is different, and every horse is different.” Mastering this art hasn’t been easy; her career began with driving 50 miles just to shoe one horse and clean out stalls to make ends meet. Now Valerie sees seven to 10 horses every day and teaches at the Minnesota School of Horseshoeing.
Needing extra support in her business, Valerie found WomenVenture, where she later attended several business classes. Two years after starting the business, Valerie received a loan from WomenVenture when she couldn’t find one elsewhere. WomenVenture saw the viability of Many Hooves and allowed Valerie to cover important costs and expand her business.
Promoting and empowering women has also been a personal goal of Valerie’s. Ninety percent of riders are women despite the industry being male-dominated. “Women have a much easier time connecting with the horses,” says Valerie. “They have to be smarter because they have less brute strength, and horses respond better to that.” Valerie hopes to further women’s skills in both horseshoeing and business in the classroom setting. At the age of 53, Valerie also wants to inspire women of all ages. “No one is too old to do anything!” she exclaims. “Reach for your dreams.”