Milliken, Colo., farrier Del Slaugh passed away Aug. 30, 2022.
Slaugh was a farrier for nearly 50 years, shoeing predominantly Morgans and Saddlebreds.
After serving in Vietnam, Slaugh answered a bulletin board advertisement to apprentice under M.I. Rassmussen. He later attended Oklahoma Farrier’s College in Sperry, Okla., and put some time into working for International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame member Bud Beaston. It was during this time when Slaugh was introduced to working on gaited horses. However, an opportunity presented itself when a Colorado horse show farrier failed to show up. Slaugh was called to fill in.
“Right off the bat, there was a fellow from Littleton who had a bunch of Saddlebreds,” Slaugh recalled in an interview with the Farrier Focus Podcast. “He said to me, ‘This horse was shod a week ago. Tell me what’s wrong with him.’ Now the pressure’s on because I don’t know much. I said, ‘It looks to me that the nails are awfully low.’”
The horse owner agreed and brought all of his horses to Slaugh to be renailed.
“I had a steady stream of people coming over because this trainer told everybody that I was a genius, which was just a laugh because I wasn’t at all,” he said. “I had very little experience. I survived that horse show, and from then on I had people calling me.”
Although Slaugh had his sights set on shoeing ranch horses, his early experience with gaited horses changed his outlook.
“I enjoyed it because there’s a lot of variety in things that you do with gaited horses, especially at a horse show,” he said. “There’s a lot of fix-up stuff. Most horses don’t come to a horse show to be reshod. They come to be patched up to get them through the next class. You have to be pretty creative to do that and I kind of enjoyed that.”
Slaugh’s passing drew a significant reaction across the horse industry.
“I’m happy and grateful to have known him since I was about 8 years old,” Barb Christensen wrote. “If I had a question about just about anything in the world, [he] would be my first call. There aren’t enough words to describe him — the Green Beret, the best horseshoer in all the world, the most talented whistler I’ve ever heard, and of course, the jokes. … I’ll miss you forever.”
The River’s Edge, a Morgan and Saddlebred farm in Elizabeth, Colo., expressed what many who knew him are feeling.
“The world has lost a wonderful man,” it stated, “but Heaven has gained him.”
Services are pending.