John Watkins

I saw a man shoeing a horse in 1977 when I was 19 years old and thought it was the coolest thing. I was working for the city of Raleigh, N.C., Parks & Recreation during the week and got a job at Meredith College feeding horses and cleaning stalls on the weekend to save money to go to horseshoeing school. I enrolled in The North Carolina School of Horseshoeing owned and operated by Hall Of Fame farrier Donald Jones.The year was 1978 and after completing school I went to work with another great farrier, Raymond Wall.

We worked on all kinds of horses, from Big Lick Walking Horses to Hunter Ponies and everything in between. I was having a blast and learning so much. I helped Raymond 2-4 days a week while I tried to build my own client list. I was now shoeing some horses at Meredith College where I met my future wife in November 1979; she needed a farrier and I needed work. We were married in December 1980 and she is still my favorite client.

I continued to practice my craft and try to improve my knowledge and skill while making a living. I got the opportunity to be the clinical farrier for an outstanding vet who really taught me how the biomechanics work on a horse. My practice was growing with nicer horses to shoe. I was hired by George Wallace, a hunter/jumper trainer and judge, to shoe at Triangle Farms in Raleigh, N.C., owned by Joan and Glenn Petty. This is where I was blessed with the best shoeing partner I could ever have.

Nipper was born on March 31, 1996, and started riding with me when she was 6 weeks and 2 days old. She was a Jack Russell that became my public relations manager for the next 17 1/2 years. We lost Nipper in November 2013 and think of her often. Through the years, my business has gone through some changes. I shoe a lot of Arabs, which I truly enjoy (my wife has shown Arabs since before we met). I am really enjoying shoeing some really nice Friesians and Gypsy Vanners. I am very lucky that I have been shoeing for the same people for years and plan on doing so as long as they will have me.  I do love what I do and if that ever changes I guess I will have to get a real job.

Be sure to see the photo essay that the talented Lindsay of Life Exposed did for me. It includes pictures of me at work, as well as the late Nipper. A few of the photos can be seen below.

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