Cruisin’ With The Patch Man

South Florida farrier does a booming business in quarter-crack repair for elite equine athletes

South Florida farrier does a booming business in quarter-crack repair for elite equine athletes

How often can one ride with a farrier for a workday and never see him put on a single shoe? Not very often! But days like that are not unusual for Tom Curl, the farrier based in Vero Beach, Fla., who spends about half his working time patching quarter cracks instead of putting on shoes. Indeed, he travels to take care of a single foot on many horses, and many others are hauled to him for the same treatment.

One might wonder how someone can make a living patching quarter cracks; a lot of people see them rarely, if ever. Unfortunately, they’re common in the high-end equine athletes Curl treats, including Thoroughbred and Standard-bred racehorses and elite hunters and jumpers. And his work isn’t confined to Florida; he has traveled around the world patching problem feet, from Florida and California to Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Why is he so sought after for fixing the dreaded quarter crack? We spent a day with him in early November to find out.

6:15 a.m. Curl’s day usually starts early, and today is no exception. We met up in Lake Worth on this sunny South Florida morning, and the farrier had already seen his first horse — a new arrival to the area who’d sustained a nasty avulsion injury in transit.

Somewhat surprisingly, Curl is not in a shoeing truck … at least not at first glance. He’s in a…

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Christy West

Christy West is a freelance writer and the Web site editor for The Horse. She is also a former editor of American Farriers Journal.

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