Kentucky farrier John Mills passed away Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, surrounded by “his guys,” just as he wished. He was 69.
An avid member of the Long Run Hunt Club, Mills truly valued those hunting friendships and shared memories. He was a skilled farrier and teacher and master problem solver. He took great pride in the skills of Kraig, Albert and Brandon.
Mills learned farriery from a World War II German army farrier. He also was a mounted officer with the Toronto Police Department, as well as a cutting horse champion.
The funeral was Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. The following poem, written by farrier Kraig Milam, was read at the service:
The tires crunch in the snow as he backs up to the barn,
the sun not yet up, the first stop of the day.
Warm yellow light bending around the heavy stable door,
it rolls open at his touch, the light and smell of the hay fall out.
Mare in the cross ties, her head hangs low,
he rubs her neck and she gives a long sigh.
she’s a good mare, would have been great if not for that knee
he’s kept her sound now for five years .
He lights the forge, the smell of smoke mixes with the stalls,
the mare lifts her foot, she knows this game.
A thin shoe hits the floor, the knife flashes, the nippers snap
with a practiced eye the rasp grates the hoof to the floor.
At the anvil, the hammer shapes red iron
the ringing muffled by the hay.
The hands swings the hammer, the anvil hits the shoe
the hand, the hammer, the anvil, three parts of the whole
Just one horse ... just one barn ... just one day.
How many of each, the numbers blur.
Tomorrow another horse will need him,
And he’ll swing the hammer again.
One day he'll lay down that hammer.
The anvil no longer will ring
but the farrier will live on forever,
in the memories of horses he's touched.