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Friday, February 08, 2008

End of an Era for Kentucky Horse Park Farrier

Farrier, originally uploaded by XianRex.

Harlan Pennington told me today that his last day as farrier at the Kentucky Horse Park will be February 24th. That's Harlan in the nice photo with this post.

Harlan has been farrier at the Horse Park outside Lexington for more than eight years. His job is to shoe the Park's 100 or so horses--including 20 draft horses--and also meet and greet the public who wander through the shop as they tour the grounds.

He said he did not know who his successor would be or what the hiring process would entail.

The farrier shop is centrally located on the grounds and will soon be expanded. Harlan will still be associated with the project, as he is chairman of the American Farrier's Association's Kentucky Horse Park Visibility Committee.

Harlan said that the front part of the shop, where the public enters, will be enlarged into a 10 x 20 foot room that he hopes will become an educational display area to explain blacksmithing and the American Farrier's Association. The AFA national headquarters is located in a nearby building.

By my count, Harlan is the fourth farrier to work at the Horse Park since it opened. The first farrier, John Bodkins, had two assistants...and only 20 horses to shoe. Bodkins was followed by Saddlebred expert Shorty Roberts, who in turn yielded the anvil to Dave Gibson. Harlan came in to help Dave with the draft horses when he was hurt...and never left.

The farrier shop should be open during the upcoming American Farrier's Association convention, to be held in Lexington at the Lexington Center downtown and the Horse Park arena February 28 to March 1.

The centerpiece of the shop is no doubt the huge framed photo on the wall, showing farriers from (probably) England or Ireland shoeing a light draft with roadster shoes.

Double-click on Christian Lipski's photo to see an enlarged view of this wide-angle shot of one of America's most talked-to and photographed farrier icons. What you are seeing on the blog is a cropped version of the original photo.

Harlan is president of the Bluegrass Horseshoers Association and will serve as the host association's convention coordinator for the AFA.

We'll miss you, Harlan.

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