Tim Garner grew up hoping to become a jockey. When he physically outgrew his racing dream, he discovered another: shoeing horses.
Garner dreamed of racing horses as he grew up, dedicating time his time to them before and after school.
“By the time I was 12, I would get seven horses galloped for exercise before school at $5 a head in the early ’80s,” Garner told the Cleburne Times-Review, but it wasn’t sustainable.
“I was galloping all those horses, but when I was 15 they [saw] that I was going to get too big,” says Garner. “So all I ate was breakfast and drank tea the rest of the day, but I still grew.”
But, Garner would not give up a life of working with horses. So he worked with a farrier.
“I’d keep galloping horses in the morning and then I’d [shoe] one or two horses every day,” he says.
At the time, the shoer told him not to go to school.
“The horseshoer said to just work with him because I would have to do that anyway,” he says.
According to Garner, the experience was positive.
“He always built my confidence up. I can just imagine how terrible I was,” he says. “He was always just real positive.”
Upon being forced into retirement, the man entrusted Garner to take over his biggest barn.
Garner doesn’t regret it. He intends to cut back, after 30 years of shoeing in Johnson County, Texas, but he won’t stop. “This is certainly a hard job, but I like it,” he says.
“There is more than just learning how to do it. It’s being able to get under the horse and handling the horse while doing art,” says Garner. “At first, it is really hard to figure that out. You’re getting jerked around quite a bit.
“Now, no matter how they act, I can do it without myself being stressed.”
He shoes a variety of horses.
“I did one yesterday that just won $1.9 million. But, I do the same job on those kids’ horses as I do those million dollar horses.”
Mike White, one of Garner’s customers, has used him as a farrier for more than 10 years and highlights his caring.
“It’s not just about the horses; he cares about the families, too,” says White. “He comes to my kids’ baseball games.”
Garner doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.
“My hero, last year at 90 years old, was still shoeing horses over at the race tracks,” he says. “I asked him why he was shoeing horses and he looked at me and said, ‘Because when I quit I will be an old man.’”
So Garner continues shoeing.
“You will never run out of work,” he says. “You can do as much or as little as you want. Here soon, I hope to be doing a little less, but I will still be doing it.”