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Wed, Feb. 26

Farrier’s joy is seeing lame made well

Blacksmith, wheelwright, farrier are three skills that are practically a lost art in the high tech world of today. Eric LaBlanc of Chino Valley still enjoys making his living from this 1800s type of work.

“People from back east call us blacksmiths and people in the west call us farriers,” Eric said.

Eric is a certified wheelwright, too. He restores carts and buggies and can build a wheel from scratch. Eric’s main business, however, is horseshoeing. He learned to shoe horses from an old farrier while working on a ranch at the age of 16.

“I went to college, to be an engineer, but that was a mistake,” Eric shared. “I really enjoy working with animals. I tried to deny my true self and leave this side of myself. But, I wasn’t happy until I came back. I was away from it for about 17 years and that’s how long I was miserable,” he added.

Eric shoes as many as five to six horses a day, and on a long day as many as 10 to 11. Each shoeing takes about an hour.

“The most time consuming part is trimming and balancing the horses feet,” Eric explained.

His wife Cyrille helps him with his horseshoeing by scheduling his appointments, and taking care of the financial part of it, and holding the horse’s head while Eric shoes.

“She’s my girl Friday,” Eric smiled.

Eric not only shoes horses but is very involved with veterinarians regarding lameness in the animals he works with. Besides the physical work, Eric does a lot of studying on anatomy, too.

“I have four generations of medical personnel in my family and I like dealing with the lameness in the animals,” said Eric.

Eric admits he has a real love for all animals. They have six horses of their own, three of them are rescues.

“I was the kind of kid who always had frogs in my pocket, and brought home all kinds of injured animals,” he said.

“We have even stopped our vehicle on the road to rescue a tarantula,” Cyrille grinned.

“He has a real soft heart for all critters,” she said. “That’s life with Eric!

Eric plans on doing this type of work until he is 70.

“This is my life and I love what I do. The best thing in the world that I can see is a horse that walks in lame and walks out with no pain,” Eric beamed.

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