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Tue, Nov. 12

Williams: And now, a word about soak socks

Patricia Earle knows something about horses. She grew up with horses in California. As a young lady, she dated a fellow who shoed horses. And she won numerous awards for her own show horses.

Her father took a horse shoeing course at Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo in 1949 after World War II, although he went, instead, into the construction trades.

After he retired as a plastering contractor, dad went to work for various trainers at Santa Anita Park in California with the goal of absorbing all the expertise he could about the science of equine racing. His other goal was to race horses here in Arizona. He did that, too.

Pat tells me that her mother enjoyed quite a special moment in 1978 during her own years at Santa Anita Park as a horse trainer. The Pasadena Star News reported on that ‘special moment’ with the headline, “Trainer ‘Virginia Who?’ [is a] big sensation at Santa Anita.”

Pat’s mother, Virginia Humboldt, was the trainer of Pappa’s Dub who just happened to win the first half of a double by a length, against several favored contestants.

Not only that, but a fellow named Willie Shoemaker was aboard one of those other horses who followed Pappa’s Dub across the finish line. Pat says that her mother was one of the first licensed female trainers ever at Santa Anita Park.

Not to be lost in the shuffle, Pat’s husband, Bob, has spent 30 years shoeing horses. Whew!

So, after all this lead-up, when I asked Pat what she wanted to do when she grew up, I knew her plan had to involve horses. And it did.

She and, her husband moved to Chino Valley in 1997 where her dad was living at the time. In 1999, she opened the doors to Four Shoes Farrier, Inc. Since then, she’s provided horseshoeing supplies, tack, used saddles and corral panels to the farrier and equine community.

Her shop just north of the traffic light at Road 3 North, was a fun place to investigate since I know absolutely nothing about horses. On the other hand, I do remember that I rode a horse once and managed to stay on top for most of the experience. Maybe I will again someday.

Pat stocks over 10,000 horse shoes. She reveals that some of them are made of aluminum, some of steel and some of a rubber plastic composite. And, of course, they come in all sizes. She said that she received a phone call one day from a fellow who wanted to order shoes for his wife’s birthday. She quickly advised him that her shoes come only in sets of four.

Somewhere in the shop I ran into a bizarre-looking item. It’s called a surcingle. Pat expertly pointed out that a surcingle is used in ground training and is an important part of a horse’s harness. I no sooner tucked this newly accumulated knowledge away when I was confronted by a supply of soak socks on a shelf at eye level. I am now fully conversant on the topic of soak socks, for your information.

Pat says if she were to give advice to a young person thinking of starting up his/her own small business, she would emphasize the importance of customer service. Building relationships is the best way to build a business. I wish more business owners knew that.

There was only one question Pat couldn’t answer: “How many hours in your life have been spent mucking out stalls?” She could only promise that the hours would number in the many 1,000’s.

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