Horseshoeing on the Front Range
Life in Boulder County was experienced by Michael Tovani through a large variety of physically hard jobs. He was born in Boulder and moved to Lyons in 1976. The November Senior Spotlight is on Michael Tovani.
A hard work ethic is needed to succeed in blacksmithing. Michael claims it was his work ethic that made him the person he is today. Overcoming a hard childhood and a massive stroke a few years ago, Michael said, “I’m not a wimp.”
Except for a brief time in California, Michael grew up in Boulder along with a sister and two younger brothers. He started working while a young teen in high school. He attributes his early wild and crazy attitude about life, which often got him in trouble, to his hard home life, which lead him to leave home while still in high school and live in a room in his employer’s building, Andrews Tools.
In 1962, Doc Miller, a veterinarian, offered him his first significant job. The work introduced him to not only the care of animals, but the importance of paying attention to animal personalities. In addition to the ten years as a Veterinarian Technician, he rode horses all his life.
“I spent summers on a family ranch in Breckenridge, riding horses and living the ‘Colorado Life,’” said Michael.
Up until 1970, Michael often worked three jobs at a time. At age 38, Michael went to Tucumcari Area Vocational School in New Mexico and began learning the craft of horseshoeing. It offered an extensive professional program designed specifically for those who wished to pursue careers as farriers. Michael loved the new career, and today he can point to numerous homes and ranches in the Front Range where he has shoed horses.
“Many people don’t work more than two years at this, but I have a good work ethic,” said Michael. “In the beginning, it took me seven hours to nail on three shoes. The teacher’s helper, Earl, could do it in two minutes. I got better. I persevered. And, I’m doing nicely since my stroke because of that (attitude).”
In 1976, Michael moved to Lyons, and two years later bought property and 10 acres on Steamboat Valley Road. He sold it 14 years later for a profit of double the price.
“I lived with various companions for twenty-eight years, no children, and I am looking forward to enjoying the next adventure,” said Michael, referring to ex-wife Marie and ex-partner Lane.
He moved to the remote area of Gilpin County in 1997 and opened The Dancing Dog Forge blacksmith shop in Rollinsville. He also took a short blacksmithing course from Frank Turley in Santa Fe. On January 3, 2005, he suffered a stroke. It took one hour and ten minutes to drive him to a medical facility, which affected the outcome of his recovery.
He returned to Lyons to recuperate and eventually find work. He is now working with an apprentice in a blacksmith shop in Lyons. He is proud of the blacksmith shop that he built in Lyons with the help of a friend, Jim Goudelocke.
Michael loves being involved in the fellowship at the Golden Gang senior lunch center. He currently lives near the South St. Vrain River. Michael hopes to have his ashes disbursed in the St. Vrain River when that final day comes.