Allen Metz (Tipp City, Ohio)
I would like to nominate my friend and mentor, Allen Metz. Allen’s uncle and dad were both full-time blacksmiths. This was during the pre-WWII era. At the time, his dad was “just a blacksmith” who owned a shop in New Carlisle, Ohio. He did work on farm machinery, road horses then branched off solely to horses, particularly the American Saddlebred and Hackney ponies.
Allen would ride around with his dad, and as a small child would go to the local dairy assisting his dad applying ice caulks and frost tip nails to the horses’ shoes prior to the winter snowstorms. As a teenager he continued with his dad learning the trade. In 1960 at the age of 19, he started his own business and would help his dad on the “big days.” He continued with the American Saddlebred, Hackney ponies and Morgan horses, fixing problems no one else could do or even attempt, which was his true love and passion.
He developed what would be one of his most admirable traits as a horseshoer, which was no big profit and to leave a big barn with a successful repair of a horse’s problem and a happy owner.
During the 1970s, Allen practiced what is known today as “equine podiatry,” but in those days it was simply called “just being a farrier.” He worked on reining horses and other disciplines throughout the Quarter Horse industry, but his real passion was the American Saddlebred because of added challenges associated with the breed and showing/competition. Allen shod for a variety of people. While in the Arab world, he shod for entertainer Wayne Newton. Throughout the 1960s, 70s, 80s and early 90s, he worked large American Saddlebred shows in the Southwest Ohio area.
Allen has always been easy and humble, fondly being referred to as “Dr. Metz” by his clients who were always relieved to see him at their shows. He earned this title because of his talent for fixing what appeared to be unfixable. His saying is, “If it’s in the way, take it away. And if it’s not there, put it there.”
I was fortunate enough to meet Allen in 2008 at the Dayton Horse Show. I had been shoeing for one year, having graduated in 2007 from Shurshod Horseshoeing School under head instructor Max Williams. One year later, I acquired my CJ1 and am now an accredited professional farrier in the American Association of Professional Farriers. I enjoyed and developed a passion for corrective/pathological shoeing and performance horses. I was getting calls on the American Saddlebred, Saddleseat and Morgans. I heard Allen was the one to follow. I began riding every Wednesday with him. He taught the old way of long nailing and fixing problems in the American Saddlebred industry, including movement and gait analyzing, which moved into other breeds.
My drive was to walk into a barn and fix a problem also. Our “partnership” has continued to work well. We listen and learn and practice sound horseshoeing in our daily practice. Neither of us has been afraid to think outside the box and try something others wouldn’t try and see the success. In 2013, Allen became semi-retired. Interestingly enough, he now rides with me on a weekly basis. We continue discussing our trade. We both love what we do and look forward to our weekly ride-alongs.
Allen has made several different tools that make blacksmithing easier including hoof gauges, breakover gauges, bubble tool and many others which make the shoe more custom and individualized.
I know meeting Allen and learning from him has improved my skills. Every day we spend together we realize how much more knowledge we need to acquire to shoe this magnificent creature we all just call a “horse.”
—Mike Ratermann, owner of Double Diamond Farrier Service (New Carlisle, Ohio)