This past week, my son-in-law and my daughter, and I traveled to Lexington, Kentucky. We were there for a farrier contest he was entered in. It was called the World Championship Blacksmith Competition Winter Classic. The format consists of four people on a team. Each person shoes one foot and throughout the contest, the four of them will assist each other. It’s always fun to watch him compete and watch them work as a team. I will usually try and make it to at least one of his contests a year.
I was excited to go to this one. I’ve never been to Kentucky, but I’ve wanted to go for a long time. I’ve always heard and seen pictures about the big thoroughbred farms that are around the Lexington area. Even though I have never really followed horse racing close. I’ve always been interested in the horses. Back in the early part of my horseshoeing career, I used to work on racehorse babies, yearlings, and broodmares at a few of the Quarterhorse horse farms around my area keeping their feet trimmed. I loved the horses, but working on young race-bred horses is not the easiest thing to do. They are bred to be high-powered running machines! That would usually mean that training them to stand to get their feet trimmed was like entering the octagon with an MMA fighter. They are not much for standing in one place. When I would put a hand on them they either try and kick me, or run over the person holding them trying to get away. I don’t do any racehorses anymore, and my body appreciates it.
With four hundred horse farms, Lexington, Kentucky is the thoroughbred breeding capital of the world. Its claim is that because it sits on a limestone shelf its bluegrass produces calcium from the limestone helping build strong bones in the horses raised there. Its mild climate also lends itself to be a great place for horses to be raised. I’m not sure what I think about the limestone theory, but I do know that there are advantages in numbers, and with Lexington having more horse farms in one location than anywhere in the world there are bound to be some winners coming from there.
I had a lot of things planned for this trip. Not only the shoeing contest, but I know a veterinarian who works at the Rood and Riddle clinic in Lexington and he offered to take us to the clinic and give us a tour, and take us around all the farms that he works on. I also have a farrier/artist friend south of Lexington who builds metal sculptures of horses. The new piece he is working on is American Mustangs and I wanted to go see it.
My veterinarian friend’s name is Colton Thacker. I’ve known Colton since he was a young teenager. I have shoed horses for his family in Utah for twenty years or more. Colton did his residency at the famed Rood and Riddle veterinary clinic in Lexington. They have over sixty veterinarians on staff and some of the top equine surgeons in the world. To have a clinic of this magnitude location has to be the key. There needs to be a large horse population with owners with high earning capacities, Lexington is a prime example. Lots of horses, and LOTS of money! With my farrier background, I was eager to see their podiatry department. They have a few veterinarians who are also farriers. When it comes to lameness in horses, their feet are a majority of the cause. So the podiatry department is a big part of the program. I was amazed at what I saw. I think they had every horseshoe known to man hanging on the wall. If there was a therapeutic horseshoe that could be used for any reason, they had it. They had a crane in the shop that they used if they needed to hoist a horse up to work on him. Sometimes horses will be so lame that picking up a foot to work on it is not an option because they are so sore. There was a full blacksmith shop with multiple anvils to build custom horseshoes. Everything you would need to work on a lame horse was available. There were two buildings dedicated to surgeries. Colton says most of the time they are booked through the week, and that’s not counting emergencies. It also has its own compounding pharmacy. It’s a state-of-the-art facility!
I don’t want to make these posts too long so I will continue my trip in the next email. The thoroughbred farms we visited are worthy of their own post. To say they left an impression on me is an understatement!
Talk to you soon!
2 thoughts on “I’ve Never Been To Kentucky”
Don’t worry about making your posts too long. I wanted to keep readin about it all! That is one amazing clinic! What vet clinic has over 60 vets on staff and it’s own compounding pharmacy?!!! Such a cool place.
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This was fantastic! Am really looking forward to the next installment!