Doing clinics is a lot of fun, and they all have their unique feel to them. One of the biggest blessings in my career is that so many of the clinics that I get to do are being done with and for people who we consider good and close friends. There could be no better definition of Shearer Wludyka and Sheila Langford.
Shearer came to school in 2013, and her story really deserves a novel. If I were a better writer I might give that one a try. At any rate, she was easy to teach and eager to learn, and quickly became an AFA Certified Journeyman Farrier. If it had been possible, we would have kept her in the Heartland. Her business reached epic proportions in Anderson, South Carolina in record time, and before she knew it, she was doing things in the farrier industry that many farrier don’t do until they have been shoeing for a decade.
South Carolina was one of my states that I have not done a clinic in, so Shearer said that she would put one together and host a clinic for me to do there. That is not an easy task to organize, but with Shearer in charge, I was sure it would come off easily.
This blog should really be two parts. One about just the camaraderie of being with these folks and one about the clinic, but I’ll do my best to blend it. Shearer, her partner Sheila, and 2013 graduate Ellie Pugh, CJF, DipWCF, from the UK, came to pick Kelly and I up at the Greenville airport. Ellie has been visiting Shearer and Sheila after coming to the Hoof Care Summit and receiving her Rising Shoeing Star award. We went into the beautiful town of Greenville for a walk and lunch, and then headed to see their good friends, the owners of Thomas Creek Brewery. Sheila is a brewer that makes some amazing beer, and always makes me some NA varieties when I get to see them. We got a tour of the brewery and headed to Shearer and Sheila’s home.
Sheila’s dad had been a stonemason. She and her dad had built the stone house that Shearer and Sheila live in. It is amazing. Really amazing. Like a South Carolina castle, and I have never seen a home like it. The walls are 30 inches thick, the design is intriguing, and it feels like very few places I have ever been. Pictures won’t do it justice, and I didn’t take enough anyway.
Sheila and Shearer had made Shearer’s forge and she is well on her way to having the perfect little shop in her backyard. We had a good supper, drank a lot of home brewed beer, and enjoyed the company. They have a good friend named Gabe that has restored an Airstream that he lives in on the property. Gabe is going to become a farrier if he can put it together, and he is also a great guy. Great guys often make great farriers by the way. They dropped us off at the hotel and we got ready for the clinic the next day.
Shearer works a lot with a vet named Dr. Allie Tracey at Palmetto Equine. Dr. Tracey was willing to provide the location as well as do a lecture on radiographs. The venue was all hands-on, with the first day being lecture and dissection. The second day was hands-on forging, and the final day was hands-on shoeing. I lectured on anatomy for about 90 minutes or so and then we took a leg apart. Like every time, I learned as much as anyone as the clinic went on. In the afternoon, everyone got to do their own horse-leg dissection, and the amount of information put out was astonishing. At the end of the day, Dr. Tracey gave a great lecture on radiographs and how to read them. I think all of us went home exhausted by brain expansion.
Day two was all about the forge. Of course we started with welding a ring, but by the end of the day, we had made a lot of improvements with many of the tasks that come with building shoes and bar shoes. There were heel caulks, W-shoes, straight bars, lots of regular shoes, clipping and shaping, and someone even made a pony roadster belt buckle sized shoe. Since this clinic was just a little under break-even for Shearer, I did the two-heat bar shoe on a bet and won another $230 for Shearer towards the clinic. It was great fun.
Last day was all about the horse. Shearer organized enough horses for everyone and some problem feet for those like Ellie who are working towards higher exams. The day started with a demo of shoeing a front foot with a handmade, and then everyone got to work while Kelly and I went from horse to horse and forge to forge helping folks with whatever we could. Shearer and Ellie built and applied bar shoes, many folks made handmades and the rest used keg shoes. There was some awesome shoeing done that day and it seemed like everyone learned a ton.
To end the day, the owners of Thomas Creek Brewery, Tom and Terri Davis, cooked some amazing pork and fed everyone. They really know how to make a wonderful barbecue and it was the prefect end to a fantastic clinic. I was sorry it was over, but I was also dead tired. Shearer was getting back at me for how hard I worked her when she was in school.
Our flight for Sunday was in the late afternoon, so we went to Shearer and Sheila’s house for breakfast and then headed to the mountains to hike up to Twin Falls. It was a very enjoyable last day in South Carolina and we have booked the same clinic for next year. If you want to learn more about this great trade at a great venue, get hold of Shearer and plan your weekend with us for February of 2018. Thanks for reading.