Monday, August 23, 2010

Hoofcare @ Saratoga Presents Ada Gates: "The Blacksmith Was a Debutante"

Ada Gates Patton clowned around at Del Mar with some of her shoer pals before heading east. I guess there was no way this would be a serious photo; Ada climbed onto Ron McAnaly's stable pony and wielded a rasp. Why does this shot have a hint of Broadway to it? Can these guys shoe and sing and dance?

Hoofcare @ Saratoga is ready to do it again! We'll follow up last week's successful and hugely educational "Rood and Riddle" night with star farrier/veterinarian Raul Bras with something entirely different.

Ada Gates Patton is traveling east from California as I write this. She's aiming at Saratoga, where she will touch down at the Parting Glass Pub at 7 pm on Tuesday, August 24. She has an entertaining program plan, based on her retrospective journey through almost 40 years as a farrier, and particularly as the first woman to be licensed to shoe Thoroughbred racehorses in North America, and perhaps even in the entire world.

Some special guests are scheduled to stop in; among them Dr. Tom Carroll of the Burden Iron Works horseshoeing factory museum in nearby Troy and a host of local horseshoers, many of whom have heard of Ada, but never met her.

Please join us! The setting is informal, you can order food and a drink (or not), there should be plenty of free parking, and we're going to have some laughs and also do some serious talking about hoofcare.

Here's a re-post of one of our most popular articles ever: a "greatest hits" post about Ada Gates:

Where were you the night when farriers stayed up late to watch one of their own on the big stage in New York City? The night one of their own left the great David Letterman speechless? The night David Letterman lost control of his own show?

Ada Gates Patton is in a league of her own. The fact that she was the first woman licensed to shoe horses at a racetrack in the United States is only the beginning of the story. A few years ago, we were in Kentucky for a convention and she made a special trip to Three Chimneys Farm to visit Wild Again, one of the horses she shod back in the 1980s, when he won the Breeders Cup Classic. Ada was international horsemen's liaison for the Breeders Cup in California, and coordinated farrier services for the 1984 Olympics in California.

Ada is originally from New York; she is a descendant of Henry Burden, a Scottish immigrant who invented the first machine to manufacture horseshoes. His machines are credited with helping the North win the Civil War; his factories stretched forever along the banks of the Hudson River in Troy, New York and Burden horseshoes supplied the US cavalry for decades. 

Today, Ada owns and runs Harry Patton Horseshoeing Supplies near Santa Anita, and serves farriers all over California. The business was started by her late husband, the famous racetrack mentor and long time Santa Anita paddock shoer Harry Patton.

Ada stares up at the derelict but grand church built by her great-great-grandfather in Troy so that horseshoe factory workers had a place to worship. She saved the church from demolition through a loophole in the deed that made a provision for a descendant of the founder to lay claim. What would Henry Burden think of one of his descendants owning a store that sold horseshoes?

Ada is originally from New York, and she is the great great grand-daughter of Henry Burden, the inventor of the horseshoe-making machine. We reconnected her with her roots a few years ago by explaining that her family's church would be torn down if she didn't claim the deed and save it--which she did, and subsequently opened the beautiful old church and invited our Hoofcare@Saratoga tour group of farriers in for lunch as part of one of our tours of the Burden Iron Works.

Last year Ada was honored in her family's church by the Burden Iron Works Museum and its preservation efforts. The image at right is the outline of the Burden horseshoe company's office building, which now houses the museum. The museum and Ada found each other through Hoofcare & Lameness Journal and our Hoofcare@Saratoga program and tour of the museum. The museum is dedicated to preserving the history of horseshoe manufacturing in Troy, New York.

Today, Ada is busy selling shoes. But she recently "joined up" with one of her old shoeing clients, California horseman Monty Roberts, and the two made a DVD together on hoofcare and horsemanship for hard-to-shoe horses. Ada also teaches simple hoof balance principles at horse owner events and markets a hoof ruler to help them keep track of changes in their horses' hooves' dimensions. 

Horse Illustrated profiled Ada's pioneering career spirit in this tribute article. They named her one of the 20 most influential women in the horse world in the previous 20 years.

Ada is one person who never forgot where she came from, and is not done getting to where she's going. She's still giving us all a lot of laughs along the way, and digging the Letterman video up out of the 1990s will insure that more people around the world join in.

Join us Tuesday, August 23rd, 7 p.m. in the back room at the Parting Glass Pub, 40 Lake Avenue, Saratoga Springs, New York. The pub is one block off Broadway. Lake Avenue is also Route 50.

There is never a charge for the presentations. It is just something that Hoofcare Publishing likes to do. The horse industry needs the kind of information that our top-shelf speakers can provide and it is our mission to keep the best information in front of the people who want to hear it.

Hoofcare Publishing thanks the Parting Glass Pub, Frieda and Cliff Garrison, Jim Santore, Skidmore College, and every horse in town for welcoming Hoofcare back to Saratoga. 

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page).  

Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to

The helpful "translator" tool in the right sidebar will convert this article (approximately) to the language of your choice.

To share this article on Facebook and other social media, click on the small symbols below the labels. Be sure to "like" the Hoofcare and Lameness Facebook page and click on "get notifications" under the page's "like" button to keep up with the hoof news on Facebook. Or, paste this article's address from the browser bar into your post.

Questions or problems with this site? Click here to send an email

Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofBlog

Read this blog's headlines on the Hoofcare + Lameness Facebook Page

Enjoy images from via our Instagram account.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Hoofcare Publishing has not received any direct compensation for writing this post. Hoofcare Publishing has no material connection to third party brands, products, or services mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Hoofcare + Lameness is reader-supported. If you purchase items through occasional merchandise links on this site, the company may possibly earn a small affiliate commission, at no cost to you.