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Mt. Eden bids good-bye to longtime neighbors

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By Laura Clark

In a couple of weeks, the Kentucky Horseshoeing School will close the heavy wooden doors of its 31-year home in Mt. Eden and head to a new facility near Lexington.

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“It’s a great loss to our community,” said Mt. Eden resident Gordon Miles. “It’s been an icon.”

The move is all about elevating the level of instruction the school can provide, said Mitch Taylor, the school’s owner, director and head instructor since 1989.

“Farriers are one of the vocations in our country that is absolutely non-regulated,” Taylor said.

Horseshoeing schools are not regulated nor do they share a standard training program, he said. Some farriers are trained through apprenticeships instead or in conjunction with formal schooling. But this all leaves farriers with a wide range of knowledge and skills.

“And as a result of that there’s a lot of frustrated horse owners and uncomfortable horses,” Taylor said.

Students at the school receive classroom and hands-on instruction covering areas such as anatomy, physiology and good horsemanship. Building knowledge takes time, and Taylor plans to lengthen the courses offered by several weeks in an effort to create a model training program.

The longest course would be nine months of formal education followed by a year-long apprenticeship. Then to earn a diploma, future farriers would return to the school to complete a series of oral, written and practical exit exams.

Students historically have lived in a bunkhouse, but the new facility will have dormitories and a few apartments for a more comfortable extended stay.

The new location will be more convenient for students to do short internships at a racetrack or equine hospital, while also bringing more adjunct lecturers such as University of Kentucky professors and welding experts to the school.

“So just being in that hub of the horse industry will make it easier to have a deeper, more comprehensive horse program,” Taylor said.

Kentucky Horseshoeing School draws students from across the United States and around the world. It has built one of the best reputations in the country, said Bryan Osborne, who has been an instructor here for five years. A brand new facility will only add to its success.

“This school -- it’s just top notch. It’s going to take our school to the next level,” Osborne said.

But the school will be leaving behind a community that has relied on its services for three decades.

“The majority of people I know have used them numerous times, or they are their primary farrier,” Miles said.

Miles has been taking his horses to the school for six years. The students learn to work on live animals while the community has shoeing and trimming services at a huge discount. It’s more than a simple exchange, though.

“I’m going to miss them terribly,” Miles said. “Any situation, they were there.”

Taylor and the instructors have helped Miles after hours and have even come to his farm and, once, a horseshow in Louisville when he needed them.

Kathy Whitehouse of Mt. Eden has been taking her family’s horses to the school about every six weeks for 16 years, but that will soon end.

“Now we’re going to have to find somebody to come up here. It’s going to cost probably a hundred dollars more per time,” Whitehouse said. “We’ll really miss him, but he’s got to do what he’s got to do.”

The hour drive to the school’s new location is not too far for Miles to make for a while. And Tanya Carman, a 20-year customer, said she’ll take her three horses to the new facility from her farm on Taylorsville Lake.

“I have had some of the instructors work on horses with special problems,” Carman said. “It’s been so valuable to me. I’m going to go where they go.”