In this episode, we talk with Walter Varcoe about his work as a farrier and his interest in equine skeletons.
Walter was a professional rider and equine manager for the New York State Department of Corrections as well as their only farrier until his retirement in July 2006. In addition to his normal duties Walter also served as their equine instructor, teaching inmates the proper care of horses as well as teaching many of the inmates the art of farrier work. This not only allowed the animals to receive better care, but taught a valuable skill that those men could use throughout their lives.
During his tenure, Walter also ran the commercial composting operation at the Otisville Correctional Facility where the first horse to become a skeleton was processed. A patrol horse on duty had been kicked by another horse and had it’s leg broken. Unfortunately the injury was so devastating that the patrol horse had to be euthanized. It was from this incident that the first skeleton came to be. With the help of his crew the carcass was placed in a static aerated compost pile and allowed to compost for several months and over the following winter the first skeleton mount was built. That first mount still proudly stands today at the Otisville C.F. Horse Barn office, teaching others the value of equine skeletal anatomy. Later, another mount was crafted by Walter for the New York City Police Mounted Unit and it stands at their Remount Training Facility in the Bronx, NY.
After his retirement from the Corrections Department Walter began a full-time career as a farrier. At the prompting of many of his NYPD friends Walter began doing small educational seminars using his skeletal displays. Those seminars were well received and Walter began to get more requests for speaking engagements and for the purchase of his unique articulated mounts.
The demand for his expertise and his skeletal mounts has grown rapidly and has taken Walter all over the country as he lectures about equine anatomy. By using his unique mounts Walter can let participants lay their hands what others can only diagram in books or on posters. From schools to barns these mounts are being used to help people care for their horses better than ever. Walter continues to put what he has learned from these skeletons into daily use as he maintains his farrier business for select clients. You'll get a lot of insight from this episode about horse anatomy and from Walter's experiences as a farrier that can help you in your daily work.