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Since the Kentucky State Fair’s world championship horse show started in 1903, nobody but a member of the Ernst family has served as the official show farrier.
The shoeing work for the four generations of the Louisville, Ky., based family got started with 19th century shoer Henry Ernst who died in 1901, leaving his wife to raise six children on her own. To help support the family, 12-year-old Edward went to work in Dr. Bruder’s blacksmith shop in Louisville and later took over the shoeing business after the death of the veterinarian.
When the Kentucky State Fair launched its inaugural horse show in 1903, Edward was named the official farrier and continued in this capacity until his son, Forrest, took over after World War II. Now 88 years old, Forrest started shoeing by serving a 4-year apprenticeship with his father, who retired in 1950. His brother, Jack, also trained as a farrier with his father and brother.
In 1959, Forrest’s son, Phil, started a family shoeing apprenticeship. Among the original inductees into the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame, the four generations of Ernst family members have been shoeing horses for over 120 years. More than a century of that time has been spent as the official Kentucky State Fair horse show farriers, including 47 years for Edward, 33 years for Forrest, 36 years for Jack and over 40 years for Phil.
Edward Ernst always wore a clean, fresh white shirt and tie for his center ring…