Mr. Dirk Braak, an icon of farriers in the state of Florida, announced his retirement and stuck to it. He will no longer be shoeing horses for his long-time customers in the Tampa area.
Dirk's long career and colorful ways were beautifully documented in an article in today's Plant City Courier and Tribune.
Dirk learned his farrier skills at the Eastern School of Farriery (now Danny Ward's Horseshoeing School) in Martinsville, Virginia in 1967. His retirement date, April 8, is timed to the day so that his career will have spanned forty years since he left farrier school.
In the article, Dirk remembers that he slept in the front seat of his pickup truck while at school because he couldn't afford the dormitory fee. But he desperately wanted to learn to be a farrier.
After moving to Florida, Dirk sparked interest in farrier meetings in the Tampa area, which led to the formation of the Florida State Farrier's Association.
I have known Dirk for at least 25 years. He is passionate about his profession and has always been a leader. I can't imagine him doing anything else but I'm sure he will give anything he undertakes his all. I hope he will continue to wear his trademark suspenders!
His customers will have to learn what it's like to find and keep and pay a new farrier. How lucky they have been to have had Dirk on their farms and in their lives.
In addition to the story, the Tampa Bay Tribune has a slide show of Dirk working on their website. (Click or double-click on a photo to enlarge it for viewing.) Please read the article!
Good luck, Dirk, we'll miss you!
Photos of Dirk Braak courtesy of the Tampa Bay Tribune.