If your happy home includes a happy horse, you know the importance of maintaining horse’s shoes. For more than 20 years Gary Werner has been shoeing horses for high profile customers, including the New York City Ballet, Radio City Music Hall, David Letterman, the Metropolitan Opera and numerous Broadway shows. Gary is now joined by his son Jesse on the job.
A farrier specializes in equine care for horses’ hooves. Farriers trim and balance the hooves so shoes can be fitted. “It’s really podiatry for the horse,” explains Gary, who studied Farrier Science at Mid-South Academy of Horseshoeing in Mississippi, and worked at Claremont Riding Stables, the last public riding stable in Manhattan. It was there that Gary tended to about 50 horses.
“They [Claremont] had the contract for plays and a lot of the cultural events in Manhattan,” he says.
Gary explains that the horses’ shoes were often steel, the kind used for public riding. The farriers’ job was to change the shoes to rubber or synthetic, materials that wouldn’t mar the stages and would help prevent the horses from slipping.
Jesse attended Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Farrier Program. Father and son collaborate on everything they do. “I think, due to his background from Cornell, and my background, it works well. We try to do complicated cases that most other people in the industry don’t want to touch, but we like the challenge,” Gary says.
Shoes come in three varieties—steel, aluminum and urethane/synthetic or rubber shoes. “Shoes are mostly designed to protect the foot from the elements of the ground, which could be rocks, concrete, asphalt and hard, dry ground,” says Gary.
Horse’s hooves grow like human fingernails. In the wild, the hard surface of the ground will wear down the hooves but some get very hard, just like a callus would, and can lead to lameness due to pathology or ligament and tendon problems.
Shoeing a horse usually takes between an hour and an hour and a half. “The shoes are all pre-made. With shoeing horses, it’s no different than any other job. You have to retool. You have to reinvent. You have to be on the cutting edge as far as technology and education. Also you need a good personality, friendliness, congeniality, communication and a smile on your face. You want to convey that you’re there to help.”
It’s a passion for horses that keeps Gary interested in farrier work. “They’re gorgeous. They’re very responsive to people and it’s pretty incredible to think that these large animals are also relatively docile. They’re smart enough to be independent for survival, yet they’re domestic enough to be utilized for all kinds of work, from carrying and pulling carts to show jumping at the Hampton Classic.”
Gary will be at the Classic and is looking forward to seeing all the beautiful horses and amazing riders. “I go every year. It’s nice to see an outpouring of spectators coming to see top riders in the world compete, as well as the class of horses.”
To find out more about Gary and Jesse Werner, Certified Farriers, visit myluckyshoes.com or call 631-265-5670. The 2016 Hampton Classic Horse Show takes place August 28 through September 4 at 240 Snake Hollow Road, Bridgehampton. For more info visit hamptonclassic.com.