EDITOR’S NOTE: On Wednesday, Dr. Christina Vittoria wrote a column for the Reading Eagle memorializing veteran farrier Tim Phillips, who passed away last week.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this column. Last Wednesday we lost a great farrier, Tim Phillips. He was my old horse Lucky's farrier. Tim kept the horse sound and happy through his bowed tendons until the animal died of colic.
The first time I met Tim was many, many years ago. I was new to this area and looking for good farriers. Someone mentioned his name and I thought, sure, I bet he is good.
Everyone thinks their farrier is great, but they are not all the same. So I picked up their horse's hoof to check out the shoeing job, and to my pleasant surprise it was some darn good work. I stepped back and looked at all four feet and said, "Give me this man's name and number."
Not only was he an exceptionally good farrier with regular horses, he had a love for the draft horse that many farriers do not. Heavy horses have a tendency to be, well, just that, heavy. And when you are picking up each of their feet over and over again, you may find your back screaming at you for your career choice. And yet Tim persisted in doing them—true labor of love.
My favorite memory of working with Tim came in the form of a severe laminitis secondary to metabolic disease. I spoke with the owner and found out whom she used as a farrier. I took a deep breath of relief when it was Tim.
He had an uncanny sense for the horse's foot, and I knew he would look at the radiographs with me. So, I took films and we discussed the next step in the treatment plan. I was so impressed that he listened to my input and together we came up with a solution.
I have worked with many farriers who don't like to hear what a vet has to say, let alone a woman vet. However, Tim was different.
By the time he got the therapeutic shoes on the horse, she was walking soundly. And they were balanced. And the breakover point was right where I had suggested it be based on the radiographs. His 2-degree wedge recommendation was the right choice for her. And we both looked at each other and smiled. We had done this. We had made her comfortable. And, most importantly, we had saved her life. And we were both happy.
The world lost a great farrier Wednesday. The world lost a great man Wednesday. But most importantly the world lost a great husband, friend, mentor, father and grandfather Wednesday.
Imagine all of the horses in heaven greeting Tim at the pearly gates. Oh, to be surrounded by that many friends.
I know Lucky will be there and gladly welcome his old friend home. Rest in peace, Tim. You will be missed by more people and horses than you ever could have imagined.
Column originally published on ReadingEagle.com. Christina Vittoria, D.V.M., practices equine, small ruminant, and companion animal medicine at Willow Creek Veterinary Center.