Paragould Man Keeps Blacksmithing Tradition Alive

By Kirsten May
Delta Digital News Service

“Blacksmiths have been the foundation of society since the beginning of time.”

Lloyd Clayton works to keep a centuries-old tradition alive, despite the modern conveniences available to us today.

“Every trade revolved around the blacksmith. The blacksmith made all their tools. If it wasn’t for the blacksmith, the local communities would not thrive,” he said.

Clayton has been a farrier for 13 years. He spends his days working around Northeast Arkansas to trim and shoe horses’ hooves. He also travels across the country to compete in horseshoeing competitions.

“It’s opened my world up a lot. I’m close friends with people throughout the country and even worldwide,” he said.

After graduating from Oklahoma State horseshoeing school, Clayton worked with his mentor — Lonnie Lindsey — for four years. He’s now passing on what he knows to younger generations that come to work with him.

“A person is only able to do this for so long. So after so many years, your body’s not going to allow you to keep doing it. So you’ve got to bring new people up,” he said.

That includes his 9-year-old son Jasper, who loves to be in the shop with his dad.

“I get to work with him. I learn how to make horseshoes, knives and other things,” Jasper said.

“He says right now that he wants to continue it, but he’s really not old enough right now to do a lot by himself. So hopefully, he will continue that,” his mom said.

Clayton’s wife, Tera, said she thinks blacksmithing is good for him and she enjoys that he gets to travel and meet people who are as passionate as he is. Clayton is also part of a local blacksmith organization that teaches classes and informs people about the trade. They want people to understand how important it is to our history … and our future.

“They made everything. Everything that we needed was made by a blacksmith if it had metal in it. They were very, very important and they are still important today. We have new technology that allows us to do things easier to where you don’t have to do everything in the forge like they used to, but the blacksmith is still a very important part of society. And without the blacksmith, society wouldn’t make it,” Clayton said.