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Say “Ivy League” and the image that comes to most minds probably does not include anvils, shoeing aprons and horseshoes — unless you’re one of the many farriers and horse owners who have benefitted from the farrier education program at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
The roots of the Cornell program reach back almost 100 years, to Henry Asmus, the schools “first professor of horseshoeing.” Asmus’ line of succession is a distinguished one, including farriers such as Gene Layton, Harold Mauer, Marshall “Buster” Conklin and the school’s current resident farrier, Michael J. Wildenstein.
The program has changed over the years. When it was founded, horses still played an important role in transportation and a vital one in agriculture. Graduates of the school’s veterinary program were expected to spend a considerable part of their practice treating horses. The farriery shop at the university once held more than a score of anvils and forges where vet students developed trimming and therapeutic horseshoeing skills under the watchful and demanding eyes of Cornell’s resident farriers.
The campus shop is considerably smaller today, reflecting the changing role of the horse in modern society. But the program and its directors have continued the tradition of teaching the lore of the craft as well as conducting new research and developing innovative methods and techniques to improve the science of hoof care.
The Cornell program also carefully nurtures the education of the students who are skilled enough as well as fortunate enough to…