Matty Spinelli: Farrier With A Hammer Hand

Florida shoer lost his hand more than 60 years ago, but he never stopped shoeing horses

Matty Spinelli has been shoeing horses since he was 18. The Okeechobee, Fla., farrier lost his right hand at the wrist when he was only 19, but learned to do most shoeing jobs with just one hand and the stump of his right. For shaping shoes, he designed the sleeve he’s wearing here. It fits over his right hand. He has four different sleeves with four different turning hammers attached.

The stories of farrier courage, persistence and dedication are the stuff of legend. The desire to finish what is started transcends broken bones, failed muscles and severed blood vessels. Fortunately, most of these calamities have to be endured for only a short period.

But consider permanently losing the use of your right hand. At the age of 19, Matty Spinelli had his right hand severed at the wrist in an industrial accident. His determination allowed him to overcome a loss that would have defeated lesser men

I first heard of Spinelli from his nephew, Drew Golden and friend, John Favicchia at the show grounds in Wellington, Fla. They suggested I meet and interview one of the most amazing farriers in Florida. When I found out more about Spinelli, I agreed, and a meeting was set up.

I got some history about Spinelli from Golden on the drive up to Okeechobee from Wellington. He learned to shoe from his “Uncle Matty” and reveres him, as would a devoted son.

Spinelli is built like a fireplug, with a huge smile hidden…

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Red Renchin

Red Renchin is a long-time farrier who calls Mequon, Wis., and Wellington, Fla. home. A native of Minnesota and a member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame, he serves as Technical Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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