Renowned Farrier Ada Gates Patton ’61 Conducts Workshop

by Animal Science Concentration Coordinator and STEM teacher Katie Hergenreder

Just before Thanksgiving break, alumna Ada Gates Patton ’61 conducted a farrier workshop for the School’s Animal Science students.
A renowned farrier, Ada was the first woman ever to become a licensed racetrack farrier and member of the International Union of Journeyman Shoers in the United States and Canada, the official horseshoe inspector for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, and the official Farrier Liaison for the 1984 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles, CA, to list just a few of her accomplishments. She conducted the workshop at the Jean DuPont McConnell Stables and Riding Arena with farrier Amy Sidwar-Seaver from the Marion DuPont Equine Medical Center, and beloved lesson pony Bebe. 

Ada’s workshop began with a lesson on hoof anatomy. Sketching multiple diagrams identifying possible asymmetry in the hoof and leg, she explained how these could indicate an imbalance in the horse’s movement. The class then compared these diagrams to those of a balanced hoof, while Ada explained that her goal in horse-shoeing is to maintain a balanced hoof. 

For those who don’t know, a horse’s hooves grow like fingernails. And like fingernails, they need to be regularly trimmed for comfort and function. During the trimming portion of the workshop, Ada and Amy removed some of Bebe’s excess hoof growth. They made incremental adjustments, each time allowing the class to observe that the hoof was improving in symmetry and emphasizing the importance of listening to the horse, who will tell you with a relaxed lowered head and loose and long stride if they are comfortable and happy.

When the time came to see what Bebe thought of the trim, the class watched with bated breath. While at first a little shy with so many people watching her, Bebe began to walk and gradually lowered her head. As she continued to walk up and down the aisle, the class could clearly see a loose, swinging stride. Bebe has since been very happy and comfortable with her pedicure!
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