Rural Missouri - February 2012 - (Page 26)

If you own a Missouri fox trotter, you’ve probably met farrier Keith Mizer hile his gait is a bit slower these days, Keith Mizer doesn’t think too much about it. Time is healing the broken hip he received while shoeing a horse last March. The damaged hip and a knee broken by another unruly horse about 20 years ago are the only times he and horses have had any serious issues. “I just figure a little pain is weakness leaving your body,” says the softspoken 70-year-old farrier with a bit of a drawl. “You just work through it.” While he’s shod many a horse during his 47-year career, most of Keith’s work is done for the fox trotter breed. His reputation for good hoof work landed him the position of official farrier for the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association in 1961. The fox trotter has been Missouri’s official state horse since 2002. Ozark pioneers needed a horse that could handle many tasks as well as the rugged terrain. On top of handling rocky soil, the breed also is known for its smooth gait, which makes the horse popular for the show ring. A Lebanon native, Keith didn’t have horses while he was growing up. But when he married Iva Lou, his wife of 50 years, he grew to appreciate fox trotters since she showed the breed. It wasn’t until an old farrier named Lloyd Bell came to their farm to do some shoeing, however, that Keith W by Heather Berry hberry@ruralmissouri.coop were released to the public,” he says. “It was pretty neat watching ‘Lonesome Dove’ with Robert Duvall sittin’ right there with you.” Although he flew to Hollywood every other month, Keith still maintained his horse clientele back home. In 1992, his hoof handiwork earned him invitations to conduct workshops in Germany, Australia and Switzerland where he taught equine owners about proper shoeing techniques, the anatomy of a horse’s foot and why you shoe every horse differently. And while he loved those trips, Keith says there’s definitely no place like home. To look at Keith, you would think he’s a healthy guy untouched by the ravages of time. But he’s survived a lot more than a couple of broken bones. “Over the years, I’ve had eight heart attacks, two strokes, open heart surgery and I’ve had a pacemaker put in,” says Keith. Keith will admit all that “kind of slowed me down,” so now he works an average of five days a week and only 16 hours a day. But he’s happy and that’s what keeps him going. He can’t begin to tell you how many clients he has right now — only that he has to turn some people away, or at least put them on a list until he can “get to it.” And all his shoeing records are in his head. “A lot of times, I might not be able to recall your name, but if I’ve shod your horse even once, I’ll know what it needs, even if I haven’t seen it in a couple of years.” Keith says the most common thing he sees are horses that are off balance. “It would be like someone walking with one high-heel shoe on one foot and a tennis shoe on the other foot. Sure, your horse is going to have probLebanon native Keith Mizer is the official farrier for the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse lems,” says Keith. “If you don’t have a Breed Association. He’s been helping clients and their horses for nearly 50 years. good foot on a horse, you haven’t got Wales.” The actor asked Keith to work a horse.” considered a career involving horses. on his horse and, a few days later, he Mansfield client Donna Brown “While he was there, Floyd asked offered him a job working on some agrees. “Keith’s just the best. He can me, ‘Would you like to start doing of Hollywood’s finest equine actors, look at a horse work and see what this?’” says the Laclede Electric Coopincluding Roy Roger’s horse, Trigger, angle (shoes) they need to help them erative member. “So I worked with and Gene Autry’s horse, Champion. work to their best potential. him and learned the business. When “It’s not like I needed the work, “We’ve had other farriers work on he passed away five years later, I kept but they flew me out and paid all my our horses, but if we want any special the clientele and kept on shoeing.” expenses to work on the work done, Keith’s the guy,” says While he never attended any offihorses for studios like the Se-Ma-No Electric Cooperacial farrier school, Keith did receive Paramount, Burbank tive member. his American Fox Trotter Association and Disney,” says Keith, Over the years, Keith’s certification in 1971. He says the menshaking his head, as if he thought about opening a toring he’s received from the best vetstill can’t believe it. “So I farrier school, but he realizerinarians across the United States — flew out there every seven es he would be tied down as well as learning on his own — has • weeks for the next 20 years, to teaching all the time been the most rewarding way to learn Lebanon until Westerns fizzled out in and wouldn’t be able to his trade. the early ’90s.” do what he loves, which It wasn’t long before Keith was While in Hollywood, Keith is work on the horses. shoeing seven days a week, sometimes would work on horses the day before “When I get up in the morning, for 18 to 20 hours a day. When he they were needed in scenes. Then, the first thing on my mind is usuwasn’t working on horses brought to he would be on the movie or TV set ally a horse and something I need to his barn a few miles outside Lebanon, while the scenes were filmed. “Guns remedy,” says the farrier. “I love being Keith would travel around the United of Paradise,” “Lonesome Dove” and around the horses and their owners, States. He worked on horses at fox“The Yellow Rose” are a few of the and if I can help solve a problem for trotting competitions and even taught popular television shows on which the rider and the horse, then I’ve done equine classes at various colleges, Keith worked. my job.” including Texas A&M University. Keith says a wall full of autoFor now, Keith doesn’t have any While Keith is quick to label himgraphed photos and a multitude of plans to retire. self as “just a country boy” and is pergood memories remind him daily of “The only way I’ll retire is when fectly happy to keep his work based in his Hollywood farrier days. He says he they drag me out from underneath Missouri, he’s had opportunities many thought as much of some of the horse one of the horses.” people only dream about. stars as he did the actors. In 1971, after teaching a clinic in “I’d have to say that Robert Duvall You may contact Keith at 417-426California, he crossed paths with actor and John Wayne were the nicest guys 5326 or 417-849-2178. To learn more Will Sampson, known for his roles in I met out there. I even got to preview about Missouri Fox Trotters, go to www. movies such as “One Flew Over the the shows with the stars before they mfthba.com. Cuckoo’s Nest” and “The Outlaw Josey 26 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://www.mfthba.com http://www.mfthba.com http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2012

Rural Missouri - February 2012
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Better together
Outdoors
A plague of enmity
Out of the Way Eats
Rink redemption
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
Radio revivalist
If the shoe fits
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Mr. Aviation
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - February 2012

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