"Helping horses become sound or remain sound is the most rewarding part of my work. I don’t have any special technique. I just do what I do and the horse owners love it, and I think the horses do too. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told by an owner that ‘my horse always seems to feel better.’“
Farriery is a business “where you can never say you know it all. Every day, I learn something.”
Isaiah Garn, a 24-year-old farrier who works south of St. Louis, Missouri, in the small northeast Jefferson County town named High Ridge, reflects the historic independence of his town.
High Ridge is a unique municipality that is run by elected trustees. It has not ever become a city, rather being an unincorporated self-governing town. The early German and Irish settlers, the story goes, wanted to keep a rural non-urban governmental structure.
“I was homeschooled most of my youth. In some of the years, I used different Christian school programs. I had to do all the same tests and work that the kids did in the public school. The plus side was I could go at my own pace and do two days’ work in one day and graduate early. I was graduated at 16 years old and went to horseshoeing school at 17.”
His younger brother, Zach Garn, also was home schooled. “Now, Zach is starting his career as a farrier in the St. Louis area,” Isaiah said.
“Our parents live in High Ridge. Our dad, Mike Garn, is the Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in nearby Overland. This is the reason we moved to Missouri from Ohio. Our mom, Kelly, is a homemaker, and she has worked for the past nine years for a local bank,” he said.
“When I was a kid, I watched our farrier work on our horses in Oak Harbor, Ohio, and I wanted to do it.”
So, at age 17, “after checking out several farrier schools in the United States, I chose Midwest Horseshoeing School in McComb, Illinois. Back when I attended, it was owned by Roy Evans. It since was sold in early 2010 to Steve Hedges. Then, Steve and Laurie Sermersheim bought into the school with Mr. Hedges in December 2013. The school operated in McComb for 46 years until it was moved in 2010 to Divernon, near Springfield, Illinois,” Isaiah noted.
At Midwest, “I graduated top in the class with the highest overall grades in 2008. I stand by the school and recommend it every time I get asked.”
He gives great credit to former instructors Roy and Eric McCullom, ”who taught us the secrets and tips of the trade,” Isaiah said.
“After I graduated, I stayed in contact with Eric McCullom. I would travel from St. Louis to Quincy, Illinois, to shoe with him a couple of times a month. If I had begun to develop any bad habits when I first started out on my own, he would help me to stop them. He is a person you look to for guidance.”
Eric McCullom “still lives just outside Quincy but his back does not let him shoe horses now. He was a very good farrier in all disciplines. He shod a range of horses from Heartland Hackneys to top-notch reining horses.”
Isaiah said he works on “horse lameness issues by being very fortunate to work with several vets in St. Louis. I have learned a lot through working with these veterinarians: Dr. Tim Ellis, Dr. Burny Baxter, Dr. Ted Kellerman, Dr. K.C. Swope, Dr. Lee Hinson, Dr. Patty Homeyer, Dr. Stue Robson, and Dr. Tegan Easton.”
Isaiah said he “works mostly around St. Louis” and also “spends one or two days a week in or around Columbia.” When he gets a call to work away from home, like in the mid-Missouri town that has many horses in its metro area, he works out of his F-150 truck.
On his truck is his motto: “Shoeing that allows your athlete to perform at the top level.” He notes that his work is “specializing in performance horses.”
Most of his supplies he “gets from Spanish Lake Blacksmith Shop” in Foristell, Missouri.
I asked him: Since you do cold and hot shoeing, what is the difference?
“I always have said there’s a time for hot shoeing but 90% of the time there is no difference between hot and cold. I use hot shoeing if the horse has brittle feet or has been foundered. If your horse has good feet, you are not going to see a difference. Now this is the biggest argu-ment between farriers but this is how I feel about it,” he said.
Isaiah does farrier work for clients who include: “Dr. Chris Perry who owns the St. Louis Equestrian Center and has around 60 head of Warmbloods. I also shoe for Anderson Equestrian Center, Jean Mutrux, Renee Page, Miller Arabians, Sharon Niles, and Tim Cherry. I shoe Allie Layos’ Saddlebred named Apple, and Saddle & Bridle Magazine co-owner Jeff Thompson’s Saddlebred Blackie. I shoe Morgans too.”
He also goes to Cottleville, Missouri, “to shoe for Dardenne Creek Riding Academy, where Michelle Spiegel is the riding instructor.”
A rodeo man since the age of 16, Isaiah “also shoes barrel horses.” He was born in January 1991.
He met his now wife Jennifer at a rodeo in early 2009. He is a calf roper. She is a barrel racer. “We started dating, and in November 2011 we got married,” he said.
“She grew up on a farm and had horses from day one. She started barrel racing at a very young age,” he noted.
“We have five horses. My wife and I both rodeo. She runs barrels and I tie down rope plus announce several rodeos a year.”
He “started roping calves at 16. I drove to the rodeos by myself usually. Sometimes, my parents would ride along. My brother just roped at the house. Zach never got big into rodeoing. When he left to go to shoeing school, he sold his horse and hasn’t bought one since.”
He and Jennifer “mainly rodeo in Missouri and Illinois. If there’s a rodeo within a three hours’ drive, we will be there,” Isaiah said.
“This year, my wife would like to qualify for the ‘American,’ which is the world’s richest one-day rodeo. If she makes it, she’s got a chance to barrel run for a million dollars. We will have to go to Ohio and/or Mississippi to see if she can qualify,” Isaiah pointed out.
The young couple “own a farm in Union, Missouri,” where they live. “We have an outdoor arena and horse barn that has four stalls. Our fifth horse we retired to my wife’s parents’ place in Robertsville, Missouri.”
Of himself and his career, Isaiah said: “I am a people person and I love to talk so I have the best job for that.”
The brown-eyed, brown-haired, lean built 5’ 9” tall farrier shared his humorous side:
“I’ve always said being shorter is an advantage to being a farrier because the horses like it better. They don’t have to hold their leg up as high as they would with a taller guy.”
Isaiah Garn summarized his attitude about his chosen work this way:
“My goal is being a farrier full time. As long as I’m shoeing and helping the horse, It doesn’t matter if I’m working on a $200 pony or $250,000 show horse.”