Watsonville, CA: Using fire, water and his consummate skills, Michael DeLeonardo transmutes raw metal into custom hand-forged horseshoes and unique works of art. After Midnight has been working with Mike on branding, marketing and educating horse owners about the benefits of his specialized offerings.
When Mike was commissioned to craft a special Christmas gift, this year, for a horse-lover named Kim, he forged a decorative ornament in the shape of a horse shoe surrounding the letter "K." The customer — Kim's boyfriend Carlos — made an unusual request, asking that the gift be accompanied by a video of Mike creating it. So Mike documented his work with a mobile phone, and then turned to After Midnight to transform the 24 rough video clips he had shot into what he described as "a romantic holiday music video.” You can see the result by clicking on the image below — it's pretty interesting to watch this master craftsman re-purpose a simple strip of "found" steel into a work of art...
Mikey D, as his friends call him, is a second-generation farrier, carrying on his father's trade. Farriery is a tradition that dates back to the 1st Century Romans who used leather to strap bronze soles onto their valuable steeds' hooves to protect them from the wear of traveling on the paved roads they constructed to connect their expanding empire. Horse shoeing has come a long way, over the ages, however not all of the technological advances are in the best interest of the horse.
According to Mike, “In the farrier industry, there are a lot of folks who can put shoes on horses, but not a lot of them know how to build shoes to improve the horse’s situation. Most of them use factory-made ‘keg’ shoes. For many of them, the trade is primarily a business; for me it is an art and a craft that puts the horse’s well-being first.”
Unlike most farriers today, Mike is also a blacksmith. Farriers clean, trim and shape horses' hooves, as well as fitting them with shoes. Trained to recognize and address equine foot and hoof issues, the farrier is educated in equine physiology, as well as in the proper care and handling of horses. The availability of factory-produced horse shoes has enabled modern farriers to ply their trade with minimal metal-working skills. But prefabricated shoes cannot always be adjusted to address anatomical or pathological issues. As an experienced farrier and a blacksmith (i.e., a metal working expert), Mike’s niche is hand-forging custom horse shoes from scratch, collaborating with veterinarians to devise corrective solutions for horses challenged by health issues, and producing specialized foot gear for the high-performance equine athletes that compete in a wide range of disciplines, from jumping to barrel racing.
While he is obviously quite fond of horses, it's clear that Mike's true passion is for metal crafting. Even after working from dawn to dusk taking care of horses' feet, you'll often find Mike with his forge still alight and his anvil ringing into the night, as he hammers metal into art.
If you'd like to learn more about Mikey D, the history of horse shoeing and how custom hand-forged shoes benefit horses, visit MikeyDFarrier.com. After Midnight wrote, designed and developed the website. We are implementing SEO best practices by continuing to update the content with case studies intended to educate and inform horse owners about equine health issues that can be addressed with proper hoof care and corrective shoeing. It's a labor of love for both our dedicated client and for After Midnight Founder and Creative Director Kathryn Klein, whose horse Espia would be happy to provide Mikey D with a glowing reference!