Friday, October 06, 2006

Silent Anvil: International Farrier Icon Edgar Stern Has Died in England

Edgar Stern
Yalding Forge, in the village of Yalding, near Maidstone in Kent, England, is the site of a very old shoeing forge run by the Stern family. (Elsie Bell photo)

News from the UK is that Edgar Stern, MBE, FWCF died last Thursday.

Mr. Stern was the helmsman of one of Britain's great farrier dynasties. Working with his sons Trevor and Clive, and with his wife Joyce running the business, Mr. Stern trained dozens of farriers, judged competitions and influenced farrier profession developments in England and, by extension, the world.

The Sterns' ancient forge outside Maidstone in Kent is a frequent destination for visiting farriers from around the world, where all found a warm welcome and stimulating--and often even challenging--conversation on the role of the farrier in the horse world. Mr. Stern was well-known judge of farrier competitions and visited the United States in the early 1980s. Also at that time, he was recognized by HM The Queen for his contributions to farriery with the award of the British Empire Medal.

Mr and Mrs Edgar Stern of Kent, England
Edgar and Joyce Stern
I was one of probably thousands of people who visited the Sterns and saw firsthand how their multi-farrier and mega-apprentice business operated with military precision. I remember the din in the forging ceasing instantly when Mrs. Stern appeared with the tea pot. We hear much about multi-farrier practices in the USA, but the Sterns had always been doing it, and without a business plan, a mission statement or management consultants, because that is what they had always done. Still, Edgar found time to be my personal tour guide and told stories late into the night.

Few people I have met in my career have taken the profession of farriery as seriously as Edgar, nor given as much to its development. This is a great loss and world farriery should stop, take its breath today, and consider who amongst us could even hope to fill the void that is left with his passing.