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If you are talking horses in Bedford County, Tenn., it is going to be about the Big Lick.
Shelbyville, the county seat, is home to the annual Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH) National Celebration — a 75-year-old show held over 11 days. You can’t drive far in the county without seeing TWH barns, signs acknowledging the breed and businesses affiliated with them. Make no mistake; there is a lot of pride surrounding these horses in this area.
A longtime resident of the county, John Schmidt grew up with Tennessee Walking Horses. Now retired, his father is a legendary TWH farrier who got his start in 1954. The younger Schmidt, whose career began in 1990, built his practice on shoeing the breed. Because of that high concentration of Walking Horse barns in the area, he never had to leave Bedford County to serve these clients.
Today, Schmidt’s practice provides hoof care for other breeds and disciplines. Like elsewhere n the country, Schmidt finds that the down economy impacted horse owners, which then was felt by the farriers. Along with that, the uncertainty about and regulation of the TWH industry has made it more difficult for area farriers to specialize only with that breed.
So 5 years ago, he began working with other breeds and disciplines. He still has a great passion for Tennessee Walkers, but felt diversifying his practice was required due to the changing landscape in this segment of the equine industry.
“I have truly been blessed to work on high-level…