A young farrier arrives at his shoeing appointment in North Central Alabama. It’s not just any shoeing appointment, though. It’s his first. A full set.
Do you always remember your first? Well, Tony Bullard does. You see, he’s been nailing shoes on Miss Betty since 1990. There’s only been one other farrier who can claim the privilege. Bullard readily admits he knew better. He shouldn’t have tried climbing on that colt. He paid the price for his momentary lack in judgment with a broken wrist.
Miss Betty was waiting on him the next cycle, though. Another full set, just like always.
“There was no discussion on that,” Bullard recalls. “Whether she was being used or not, they wanted her shod, period.”
You can’t ask for much better clients than Miss Betty’s owners. In the age of Dr. Google, they’ve never questioned Bullard’s shoeing. There hasn’t been so much of a hint from them that another farrier is willing to do it cheaper. Of course, that says as much about Bullard as it does Miss Betty’s owners.
As her next shoeing cycle approached in early November, Bullard’s owners broke the news. The 32-year-old mare couldn’t keep her weight on. Nothing seemed to help. Like any good horse owner, it would break their hearts to see her suffering. The decision had been made to lay her to rest. Regardless of their plans, they told Bullard that they would be keeping their appointment.
“So just a trim then?” he asks.
“No sir, full set, just like always,” came the reply. “Miss Betty ain’t going to heaven without shoes.”
Bullard placed his shoeing box under a bare tree on Nov. 5, 2020, and shod Miss Betty for the final time under a blue clear Alabama sky.
“I’m not going to lie,” he says, “I cried as I drove away from there.”
Bullard canceled his morning appointments for the next day. He wanted to pay his respects to the first horse he ever shod as they laid her to rest.
Thirty years. One horse owner. One farrier. One horse. A full set, just like always.
Honor the Farrier Who Inspires You
Farriers like Tony Bullard are the reason American Farriers Journal introduced Farriers Week in 1998. It’s important that those of us in the equine industry celebrate farriers for their dedication to providing hoof care to horses like Miss Betty.
Farriers are part of a close-knit community. Whether it’s sharing knowledge, encouragement or support during a time of need, they are always ready to lend a hand. If you have a colleague, educator or mentor you would like to honor July 4-10 during Farriers Week, fill out the form below to share your tribute.