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LP horse show farrier a shoer to the stars

LAKE PLACID — Amid the hustle and bustle that is the horse shows at the North Elba Show Grounds, there stands a solitary building that only has two sides. There are just a few permanent buildings at the show grounds, but this one, situated next to the long tents that house horses, may be the one most integral to the success of each individual horse.

The farrier’s shop, a small, open-sided building, is home to Tony Bucci, who has been the official farrier for the shows in Lake Placid for about two decades, and has been in the business for 45 years.

A farrier is someone who takes care of a horse’s feet, including the installation and removal of horse shoes.

Bucci works under contract since the shows are required to have a farrier on hand, and said that he fills his days with both routine work and emergency services.

“I’ll get ring calls, and that’s my main priority,” Bucci said Saturday, in between shoeings. “We get work that comes through here. People know me so they come in. We’ll get shoeings, all kinds of stuff.”

In addition to answering the call in the event that a horse loses a show just as it’s about to start a jumping round, Bucci also said he’s a bit of a catch-all fixer for horse hooves.

“Sometimes the horse will go a little lame. The vet will diagnose, that’s their job,” he said. “But a lot of times they’ll come in here too and we have to figure it out. So usually the fixing part is our end of it.”

Becoming a farrier isn’t something you can take an online class to learn. Bucci said he’s worked in the industry for decades, and started out working under other farriers with more experience.

“If you get lucky, you get them fixed,” he said. “Experience really comes into it. The more you see the more you do, the better you get.”

This year’s horse shows are the biggest in quite a few years, and Bucci said he’s noticed the change too. Since many of the horse owners are quite wealthy, Bucci said he can usually tell how the economy is doing by how the horse owners behave.

“These high-end horses are usually recession proof,” he said. “But usually when the market is about to go down, you can see where they pull back. Or their bankers tell them. So it’s a great place to be.

“Sometimes they’ll give me a little hint here and there,” Bucci laughed when asked about any stock tips he’s gotten.

He also said that he’s been lucky in terms of finding work, but his long experience and familiarity with the horses has helped.

“You don’t know when you’re not going to be working any more,” he said. “Any day, any time. I’ve been lucky.”

Bucci lives in Wellington, Florida, one of the horse capitals of the United States, and traveling to shows keeps him in work.

“The other shows I do, like the Hamptons and stuff, it’s the same horses, same people” he said. “That helps me to keep working because they know me, they’re comfortable with me. A lot of times a guy will pick up a show and they’ll be sitting there doing nothing. It’s a matter of familiarity.”

Bucci also said that there’s a lot of pressure on him, even with the somewhat laid-back atmosphere of the farrier’s shop.

“If I make a mistake, that’ll put me out real quick, because you don’t want to hurt one of these guys,” Bucci said. But despite that, Bucci said it’s a tight-knit community.

“We’re all family,” he said. “We all fight, but we all really take care of each other.”

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