Goose Creek "horse whisperer" carrying on family tradition
GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - In a time when everybody is trying to come up with ways to do things faster, there's a Goose Creek man who takes his time, still doing his job the old fashioned way.
His name is Miguel Whaley.
You could call him a horse whisperer, or a horse shoer if you will, but the official term for Whaley's vocation, is farrier.
"What I do, is I take care of horses," says Whaley.
Dunya, a 15 year old Arabian Stallion, is one of his best clients.
Whaley uses a custom made mobile rig built right in to the back of his pick up truck with all his tools. That way he can travel to his clients.
He calls the protective apron he wears, his life saver. It's designed to slip off his legs when he's holding the horse's leg, in case the horse pulls away. Once Whaley gets that on, he's ready to shoe, or "shod", an animal.
Whaley has been working with horses ever since he was a boy. He says he is the only licensed African American farrier in South Carolina, and this type of work runs in his blood. From his father to his great grandfather, even to his ancestors who were brought here as slaves, all have worked with horses.
"The first thing we'll do is observe what we have underneath," Whaley says. "We'll clean it out. First with our pick, brush it clean."
As Whaley begins to work he explains, "the horse's hoof is made out of keratinite cell, which is the same thing our fingernails are made out of."
"And they grow. So with the growth of the hoof, we have to take care of it. Especially if it's a domestic animal."
Horses have to get new shoes about every six to eight weeks. It helps to keep the hoof balanced.
Whaley says when the hooves grow unbalanced, it's like a woman walking with a bedroom shoe on one foot, and a three inch pump on the other.
"This is the clipper, or the nipper, and this is what we use to straighten out the excess of the foot. And what it does, it takes off everything that you do not need," explains Whaley.
If the horses hooves aren't trimmed and shodded regularly, the imbalance throws the back out of alignment, and the problem could eventually cripple the horse.
Before the shoe goes on, there's one more step in the shodding process. The hoof has to be filed down, to smooth out the rough spots.
Then, each shoe is held in place with as many as six nails. It may sound painful, but when done properly, nailing the shoe into place doesn't hurt the animal.
After about an hour, Dunya's hooves are in good shape for another month or two, and he is happy to have a new set of shoes to gallop around in.
Whaley has worked with race horses, up and down the east coast. He says you can make $100 an hour as a farrier and there are schools where you can learn this skill.
Dunya earns his living by training race horses around the Lowcountry. His owner is Johnny Simmons of Goose Creek.
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