Kaz wandered down to the horse corral at the Bear Mountain Lodge outside Silver City, New Mexico on a recent visit there. Two farriers who were re-shoeing horses attracted her attention. I showed up a bit later curious about what was going on. Together we witnesed a human/horse encounter that pushed the limits of an ancient craft in the direction of an art form.
Having lived in "horse country" since 1979 one might expect we'd have learned all about horse shoeing by now; but not so. In fact what I imagined a simple task requiring no special skills turned out to be a delicate dance between humans and horses requiring a set of skills running the gamut from fine hand/eye coordination, brute strength, years of practice, and mastery of the arcane world of horse whispering. In other words, it's a calling in which danger lurks and the consequences of missteps are severe; getting stomped on by an animal weighing in somewhere between 1,000 - 2.000 lbs or kicked by hoofs packing the wallop of a sledgehammer driven by the likes of John Henry.
Several months ago an HVAC technician announced we wouldn't see him around our house anymore because he was leaving Pride Mechanical to pursue his true vocational passion. Yep, you guessed it - to join the ranks of farriers on a full time basis! OMG! Really? He assured us that he already had a client base sufficient to support his growing family.
But we had no earthly idea what he was actually going to be doing until our encounter with Christin and Vince at that Bear Mountain Lodge corral.
Fortunately for us they were willing talk as they worked, offering up a tutorial on the farrier business. We learned that Vince has been at it longer - 30 years or so. Christin "only" 12. Both are serious famous in horse and farrier land for their mastery of the practice.
Merriam Webster says the term "farrier" is now "usually applied specifically to a blacksmith who specializes in shoeing horses, a skill that requires not only the ability to shape and fit horseshoes, but also the ability to clean, trim, and shape a horse's hooves." The farrier craft, Webster declares, extends back well before Roman times when iron emerged as the material of choice for shoes.
The extraordinary care evidenced in Sell's and Vesley's work is justified when you consider the well being of a horse depends on the quality of the shoeing.
Kaz and I moved to Oracle in 1979. The house we bought dated to the late 1940s. With little advance knowledge of the place, we set out to build a new life together, intending to settle in and raise a family.