The Toughest Mentors Shape the Course of Your Farrier Career

Each farrier has someone who has influenced their life and business in some way or another. Some are fortunate enough to have strong bonds with their mentors and mentees. Others have more complicated, and sometimes, contentious relationships. While many might not appreciate these difficult connections, the value shouldn’t be dismissed

Curtis Burns made his way north to Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to do some hoof-care work for a client. As the Wellington, Fla., farrier approached the blacksmith shop, he was appalled at what had become of the memorial dedicated to the track’s shoers. An anvil once stood proudly on a wooden stump under a sapling ginkgo tree and the names of a dozen blacksmiths were memorialized on plaques.

“Our little memorial had just been forgotten,” Burns recalls. “The anvil was gone, the stump was rotted and the little plaques were just lying in the dirt.”


The repaired memorial at the Saratoga Race Course blacksmith shop. Photo by: Curtis Burns

The pitiful display did not sit well. Burns was determined to not only remedy it but also ensure it didn’t suffer from neglect again.

Collecting 17 pavers (five more passed in the years since), Burns used the laser in his shop to inscribe them with the names of each of the blacksmiths who worked the track — Ray Amato Sr., Ray Amato Jr., Tony Amato, Jim Bayes, Jim Brummitt, George A. Boyle, George Boyle, Charlie Campbell, Elmer Campbell, John Dern, Andy Gardner Sr., Tom McNabo, Jim O’Connell, Rodney…

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Jeff cota 2023

Jeff Cota

Jeff Cota has been a writer, photographer and editor with newspapers and magazines for 30 years. A native of Maine, he is the editor of American Farriers Journal.

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