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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Friends at Work: Elizabeth Decker in the Bluegrass

Click on the screen to watch a slide show of farrier Elizabeth Decker at work; photos by and thanks to Gene Manley of Manley Farm. Slide show is mirrored from Gene's photo set at Read more below.
Kentucky horse farm owner Gene Manley likes to take photos. He's a man who studies things--flowers, fencelines, his horses, his family--through the lens of his camera. The results are lovely, but when he turned his camera on his farrier last month, he didn't expect that he'd be sharing the photos with the world...but he wasn't counting on Hoofcare & Lameness stumbling on them, either.

Manley Farm outside Lexington is fortunate to have an energetic and hard-working farrier at their service: Elizabeth Decker.

Elizabeth Decker is a great role model for farriers everywhere. A few years ago, she set out to build a farrier business for herself in one of the country's toughest markets. There's lots of competition in Lexington, Kentucky; sure, there are a lot of horses, but there are also surely a lot of mega-farrier businesses and small herds of apprentices following around the Great Ones, not to mention world-class referral experts like Dr. Ric Redden and the stable of vet/farrier pros at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's Podiatry Clinic.

Around Lexington, you never know who will pick up a foot you worked on and have a look. On the other hand, it's a good place to find top-shelf advice, and surgery or hoof repair expertise is just a quick horse van ride away.

Elizabeth earned her chaps with an apprenticeship under the detail-driven eye of sport horse specialist Victor Camp and worked toward her goal of an independent practice. Along the way, she picked up some special cases at the Kentucky Horse Park and began mentoring equine science students at Midway College as the farrier appreciation instructor.

Now she's well on her way and it's been a pleasure to watch her progress. She's subscribed to Hoofcare & Lameness since farrier school, and has even had her father call to order books for her for Christmas. And she doesn't just buy books, she reads them.

Note: these photos are not in order, but you are basically seeing Elizabeth prepare two front shoes, hot fit them, and begin to nail them onto one of Gene Manley's horses. As with all farriers, her job is made more pleasant or more challenging (it all depends...) by the presence of an audience.

Elizabeth can handle it; it's all in a day's work in the Bluegrass!

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. All images and text protected to full extent of law. F

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