Today the American Farrier's Association (AFA) and the American Association of Professional Farriers (AAPF) reported on their Facebook pages that popular farrier Red Renchin has died.
There are no other official reports, since it is a weekend, but more information will surely be available soon. Red is married to Kate Renchin; they live in Wisconsin and Florida. A more complete or factual obituary may be available elsewhere or later. This is more about what he meant than the facts of what he did, although he did a lot.
Red Renchin was a member of the AFA for decades and had been distinguished as an honorary lifetime member of the AAPF after his retirement from practice in 2011. His accomplishments as a farrier at the international level in the hunter/jumper world were well-known, and he also easily made the transition to lameness-specialty work as long-time horseshoeing consultant to Wisconsin Equine Clinic. He was interested in business management and at one time successfully managed a multi-farrier practice and trained many apprentices. He was a horseman as well as a farrier; he knew what his clients were talking about.
Red was easily at the top of his profession in terms of accomplishment and respect earned for his ability to shoe horses; he's even in the "Hall of Fame". But he will always be remembered and missed for his kindness and manners both at and away from the anvil. That's a very different hall of fame. His friendliness and attentive way of listening to others made everyone feel special and important.
Improving the farrier profession was a burning desire for Red Renchin, who could have taken it easy these past few years but chose to give back to his profession instead. He suffered through a major life-threatening health crisis in 2011 and came back to re-join the farrier world with a renewed sense of purpose. He made himself accessible at horseshoer events, supported fundraisers, and worked to improve continuing education quality and opportunities for farriers. He often shared his wider vision, that it takes more to be successful as a farrier than just an impressive number of horses shod in a day or the ability to excel at the anvil, and left a legacy in print and on video through his work as technical editor for the American Farriers Journal.
I never met anyone more interested in what was going on at an AFA Convention in the old days than Red Renchin, and he genuinely felt offended when a speaker didn't deliver a quality presentation. "That could have been so much better," he'd often moan, but sometimes he'd meet up with me outside the lecture hall and his eyes would be sparkling. "That was fantastic!" he'd say. "Let's go talk about it!"
I don't know how many hours Red and I spent over coffee or cocktails, trying to sort things out, drawing on napkins and asking the opinions of others. On a higher level, or when it came to politics, we'd mourn that people couldn't get along and wish that things would get better for farriers.
Somewhere along the way, it did get better, thanks to Red and the too-few people like him. The improvements they made for the farriers that came behind them are everywhere, if the new people are motivated enough to take advantage of them, and don't take them for granted.
I hope Red won't be forgotten. Everyone who is hosting a farrier education event for the next year should take one seat in the audience and tape it off. Make it Red's seat. Remember him, because he probably would have been there, or wanted to be.
Make your educational event good enough that Red's eyes would have sparkled and he would have chirped, "That was fantastic!" Aim to make everyone in the room want to talk it over with their friends late into the night, because that's really why they came. That's what Red Renchin would have done, and loved every minute of it.
© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing
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