Updated Sat, Jul 28, 2012 10:11 am
Updated Sat, Jul 28, 2012 10:11 am
The Olympic Games are underway in London, England, and Dave Farley, of Coshocton, is again a part of the competition.
Farley is not an athlete, but his skills certainly come into play.
"I am a full-time farrier. A farrier is a horseshoer. I shoe horses on a regular schedule year round. I spend six months in Ohio in the summer and six months working out of Wellington, Florida in the winter. I've been shoeing horses for close to 40 years and I'm absolutely in love with my profession," says Farley.
Farley's expertise is in the show jumping event and he will be tending to the footwear needs of two horses.
"I am absolutely blessed to be where I'm at and in the position I'm in. I have clients, several clients, actually, who do try out for the Olympics every equestrian year. And this year, I am fortunate to shoe Mr. Ian Miller, who they call Captain Canada. This is his 44th year of riding and I believe it's his 10th Olympics, with a little luck, he'll be carrying the flag into the arena. I also shoe for a farm...also out of Canada. The owner is Mrs. Sue Grange and she has a horse who is the alternate for the team, called Carlotta. So I'll be shoeing two horses for the Canadian team, one is Star Power, Mr. Ian Miller's, and the other is Carlotta," says Farley.
Farley is 58 years old, with years of experience as a farrier.
Putting shoes on a horse may sound like a normal chore, but not in this high-stakes equestrian world.
"The farrier part of it is quite a bit different than regular, normal type horses. It is very specific as we have to understand the footing that the horses are in, the shoes on the horses change just like athletes, so we have to understand the footing that they're in, there is traction placement on the shoes, which is actually drilled and tapped, so different type footings require the drilling and tapping to possibly be in different areas," said Farley. "And the shoes have to be clipped so that they don't slide on the foot when the horses take off and land."
Farley knows the pressure of the arena: this is his 7th Olympic Games.
"I have to ground myself and acknowledge that it is another horse show. We've been shoeing these horses and getting them prepared for two years, so I can't let the bright lights and the sparkle blind me. I have to go about it as it's just another shoeing and another day. For the Olympics, we like to watch the horses go. I usually work for the veterinarian, these horses are very special, so we usually x-ray the horses before the shoes come off, we x-ray them again when I turn them, and then quite often, we actually x-ray them after the shoes go on, we want everything to be lined up perfectly. So, it could be a six-hour day or eight-hour day with two or three horses, depending how much is involved," he explains.
When his work is done in England, Farley will continue east to mainland Europe and other Grand Prix events where his talent is in demand.
"Like any profession, you're as good as the job you did for your last client and the client's word of mouth spreads," said Farley. "I've been involved in this for years and been blessed to sought out by these types of people, who know that I can cater to them and I can service them. It's a very difficult job because you have to follow these horses everywhere."
That means travelling to nine countries in 11 weeks as the horses tackle world tours every other year.
Farley says most of his clients spend the winter in Florida in one location, but in the summer he travels to where they are. But, he says, it is a love of labor and passion for profession that makes his job worthwhile and attracts his clients.