Farrier Heidi Mello was an integral part of the recent Bantrel Cup competition. Her equestrian pit stop can be seen right outside Spruce Meadows’ International Ring, where she works from 7 a.m. to as late as 10 p.m., until all her horseshoeing work is finished.
Mello, originally from Bermuda, has been in the farrier business for more than 25 years.
“Every little girl wants to be a vet, but I never wanted to be a vet,” Mello told the Calgary Sun. “I wanted to shoe horses since I was 5 years old.”
Mello’s skills were put to the test when jumper Eric Lamaze’s horse Chacco Kid lost a leather horseshoe insert in the middle of the competition. She used an “old-school” method taught to her by her grandfather to cut the patch of leather and fit it into the horseshoe. Mello had the horse back in the ring in just 9 minutes.
This fast-paced, stressful occurence is just another day on the job for Mello. She nonchalantly describes the event as “not that big a deal, it’s what happens.”
Mello has achieved great success and renown throughout the world. It was essential for Mello to leave Bermuda in order to practice farriery, as the small island lacks the equipment and resources needed for shoeing.
Since she left the island, Mello has worked to increase Bermuda’s equestrian presence and there are now four riders qualified to compete for a world championship
In her career, Mello has traveled throughout Southeast Asia, Africa, South America and North America, teaching her trade to up-and-coming farriers.
Mello stresses the importance of educating aspiring farriers in developing countries.
“In developing countries, the farriers are the smartest grooms in the barn and they’ve had no education,” she says. “I’m talking about grooms who sleep in horses’ stables.”
A testament to Mello’s work ethic, she says that she has never taken the time to do some sightseeing around Spruce Meadows, such as Banff or Kananaskis. Her primary concern is making sure to maintain the horses health by providing swift yet careful shoeing.