HELPING HAND. Hawaiian farrier Chuck Uhlir, right, waits with a nail as Mequon, Wis., farrier Red Renchin nails on a shoe. Uhlir recently spent a week shoeing with Renchin and his farrier crews.
It’s not all that unusual anymore for a couple of farriers to get together to share techniques, talk about approaches to horseshoeing and simply see how “the other guy” does the job. But it’s still safe to say that not many travel as far to visit the other guy as Chuck Uhlir did during July.
The shoer from the Hawaiian island of Oahu traveled to Wisconsin to spend a week shoeing with Mequon farrier Red Renchin, a member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame. During a day spent shoeing with Renchin and three apprentices, Uhlir said he was getting a lot out of the visit.
“This is a whole different method than what I’m used to,” says Uhlir. “It’s been excellent. Anytime you experience something different, you should learn something.”
As you’d probably expect, Renchin wasn’t about to let an experienced 27-year farrier like Uhlir just ride along and watch during his “vacation.”
“We let him spend maybe a half-day watching what we were doing and how we do things,” says Renchin. “Then we put him to work.”
COMPARING TOOLS. Chuck Uhlir stands by while apprentices Chris Adickes and Greg Frederick look over his Shayne Carter driving hammer.
Uhlir says the horses Renchin shoes are quite different than the ones he usually sees. Renchin’s clientele consists primarily of high-end show horses, mostly hunters, jumpers and some used in dressage. Uhlir describes most of the horses he sees as “hobby horses,” although he says many are ridden in local shows on the island.
Uhlir was also impressed with the rigs Renchin’s crews use. Renchin has multiple trucks, all identically equipped and designed, so that no matter which truck a particular crew is assigned, they’ll always know exactly where everything is stored. The trucks are also equipped with a wide range of power equipment and tools.
POWER TOOLS. Chuck Uhlir was impressed with the way Red Renchin’s crews used power tools. Here he watches as Kelley House used a belt sander to finish a hoof. However Uhlir notes that many of the barns he shoes at in Hawaii don’t have electric power, making it difficult to use power tools.
But while Uhlir was impressed with the trucks, he says it’s unlikely he’ll rush back to Hawaii and try and put together something similar.
“It would be hard to use because we just don’t have many facilities like this,” he says, gesturing to the barn around him. “A lot of the barns I shoe at have no electricity.
They’re small and a lot of them have just pipe frames. We wind up working in the stalls. A lot of times we wind up turning the horse as we work so that the feet we’re working on are closest to the sunlight.”
Uhlir says it’s not at all unusual for farriers in Hawaii to pull up and shoe horses under a tree or in a field. Because of the temperate climate on the islands, many horse owners provide their horses with very minimal shelter.
Uhlir also says most horses in Hawaii aren’t hot fitted and that he rarely clips shoes. Renchin hot fits most of the horses he works on and uses clips frequently with the hunters, jumpers and dressage horses he primarily works with.
A CHEESEHEAD-PINEAPPLE EXCHANGE. Before going on to their next stop (from left), Red Renchin, Kelley House, Chris Adickes, Greg Frederick and Chuck Uhlir pose for a picture.
BURNING DIFFERENCE. Chuck Uhlir hot fits a shoe. Uhlir says he doesn’t do a lot of hot fitting in Hawaii. He also discovered some other differences in the way he and Red Renchin shoe horses.
Uhlir does clip the shoes on the horses he does for Hawaiian police, but he says that’s because of the Borium he applies to the shoes.
While the island he shoes on is relatively small, Uhlir says horses on it travel on a variety of surfaces and soils.
“Everyone tends to think it’s all sand,” he says. “But a lot of the island away from the beaches is a red clay which is actually pretty good for horses’ feet.”
Uhlir says this is the first time he’s ridden with another shoer for an extended period and that he’s glad he scheduled the trip to cover a week.
“If you just spend a day with a guy, you don’t really get the gist of what he’s doing and his outlook on shoeing,” he explains, adding with a chuckle, “Beside, I figured if I was coming all the way from Hawaii, I’d better stay more than one day.”
“Anytime you experience something different, you should learn something...”