Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Silent Anvil: Elvis's Horseshoer Has Left the Building, But Not Our Lives

Mississippi/Tennessee horseshoer Lim Couch died this week. He was Elvis's horseshoer and a longtime officer of the American Farrier's Association. "Give me an Elvis look," I remember saying when I took this photo. And he obliged.

Lots of horseshoers have famous clients. Some like to brag about them. Some keep quiet about them. And some keep them very close to their hearts and, if you ask, will share their memories. When that happens, it's special.

That's how it was with Lim Couch. Lim died on Saturday at the age of 75. Most people in the farrier industry know him as a past president of the American Farrier's Association, a quiet and dignified southern gentlemen who probably served more time and in more capacities to that organization than almost anyone.

Lim was part of a huge practical joke planned by
the AFA Board of Directors. who all donned
clown ties to honor outgoing president (and college
professor) Allen Smith, who always wore a
neat little bow tie. The other farriers teased him,
and then came this joke, with Lim at the podium.
But I knew him as Elvis's horseshoer. I can't remember how I found out about his celebrity connection, but once I knew, and once he knew I knew, the stories started to come.

Lim attended the American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention every year with a veterinarian associate, and he didn't know many people there, so my booth was a place where he could visit with someone he knew. And tell stories.

In 1996, when Lim traveled to Great Britain to represent the American Farrier's Association at the Annual General Meeting of the British farriers' organization, he presented them a plaque with a set of gold-plated shoes from one of Elvis's horses. (Top that!)

It's funny that Lim and Elvis and the horses that brought them together have been in the news lately. There has been speculation about whether or not Elvis's Tennessee Walking horses were ever "sore" in order to compete. Priscilla Presley is vague about what Elvis did and did not know about what went on in the Walking horse world.

And Lim Couch certainly would never say anything that would incriminate his clients. He has taken Elvis's secrets to the grave.

The pastures at Graceland still have horses in them and Lim Couch always seemed to be connected in some way with the horse operation on the famous estate in Memphis. 
Lim also ran a horseshoeing school. Mid-South Horseshoeing Academy, and a farrier supply store. He was someone with his fingers in lots of pies. According to an old article in the Mid-South Horse Review, Lim graduated from North Texas Horseshoeing Institute in Grapevine, Texas in 1966 and became an AFA Certified Journeyman Farrier in 1983, which would have made him one of the first to achieve that level.

I often wonder if horseshoers think they will be forgotten when they're gone but they've spent too much time with too many people. And they've told too many stories to people like me who don't forget a good story, or the people who told them, and never will.

Lim's official funeral was today, but some things and some people can never die. I'm very glad to have known Lim Couch.

This video does not mention Lim, but it is a tour of Graceland's stables.

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