Hesse Leiphart’s work as a farrier takes him from Zephyrhills in Pasco County to Manatee, Sarasota, Hernando, Hillsborough and Lee counties, where he shoes and trims the hooves of horses and cows.
He is the rare breed in the digital age who can make a decent living without Facebook, without a web page or without advertising his phone number.
Leiphart, 57, works seven days a week and hasn’t taken a vacation in several years.
“I don’t advertise because God didn’t make an eighth day,” Leiphart said recently at Ed McAdam’s Longbranch Stable in Parrish.
He does it all by word of mouth.
Leiphart was at Longbranch to trim the hooves of a 24-year-old pet cow named Wellington and a horse named Mary Jane.
I don’t advertise because God didn’t make an eighth day.
“I went to farrier school right out of high school, and I’ve been doing this for 38 years,” Leiphart said while he waited for McAdam and veterinarian Dr. Johnny Copeland to catch Wellington.
In his senior years, Wellington is slowing and his hooves have become overgrown, McAdam said of the reason for Leiphart’s visit.
But on this day, wily Wellington was having none of it, leading McAdam, Copeland and several women on horseback on a merry chase across a creek into a pasture, and then back into the woods again.
“Mr. Ed is going to walk up to the cow, and I am going to walk behind him,” Copeland said of plans to sedate Wellington so that Leiphart can do his work.
“It’s like the bear,” Copeland said of the danger of working with a large animal. “You don’t have to outrun the bear. You just have to outrun the guy with you.”
Leiphart adds that animals don’t complain when they are hurt, “They just bite and kick.”
It’s like the bear. You don’t have to outrun the bear. You just have to outrun the guy with you.
veterinarian Johnny Copeland
Finally, McAdam admits that Wellington has outsmarted plans to get her into a paddock to trim her hooves. They break off the pursuit and focus on the 30-year-old blind horse, Mary Jane.
Nancy Byrne fetches Mary Jane from a pasture and calmly leads her to the barn, where Leiphart starts to work trimming her hooves.
This time there is no struggle, and Mary Jane seems to perhaps enjoy the trimming and grinding that goes into a horse pedicure.
“I have been kicked but I’ve never had anything that’s incapacitated me,” Leiphart said, adding that he has been hurt worse by being thrown while riding a horse than while working in the farrier trade.
On a typical day, Leiphart might see 15-20 animals, about 98 percent of them horses.
Unless they are draft horses, which are so big and strong that four or five of them make for a full work day.
His prices range from $65 to $120 to shoe a horse, and $45 to $50 to trim the horse’s hooves.
“He is one of the few that if you have an emergency will come right out,” McAdam said.
In some businesses, one generation follows the next.
That won’t be the case in Leiphart’s family, even though he has a son.
“He’s scared of horses,” Leiphart said.