Advertise Follow Us
Like most farriers, Bob Skradzio remembers when he worked on his first horse. But it wasn’t in the typical rural setting of farm, ranch or stable. It was in a shop near the rail yards of Philadelphia during the years prior to World War II.
Skradzio remembers hanging around that shop, watching and learning.
“Finally I said to the shoer, ‘You want me to pull those shoes off for you?’ ” he recalls. “He looked at me over his glasses and said, ‘Give it a try.’ I was just 14.“
That was over 60 years ago. The International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame member from Ambler, Pa., shared some memories from those years with attendees at a seminar held recently at Tufts University.
It was a different era, one in which a horse wasn’t a rare sight on the streets of America’s cities. Ponies and horses drew carts that Skradzio remembers as “the delivery trucks of the city.”
“We didn’t have department stores,” he says. “You’d have peddlers and hucksters driving the streets in wagons. One would have brooms, brushes, mops; wagons full of fresh fish. Vegetables. Milk. There were junk men and moving men. They all used wagons and we shod the horses.”
Shops charged $3.50 for a set of shoes and the work was done quickly and efficiently.
“You worked in the fire or you worked under the horse,” Skradzio says. “We didn’t make shoes. We didn’t have time. You got to the shop in the…