An uncanny ability to understand horses led Beach to a career shoeing the toughest and the best.
In this episode of “Race Horses, etc.” we find out how Beach Faulkner, blacksmith for Thoroughbred stallions in Kentucky, did the impossible. No blacksmith could put shoes on Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure after he went to stud. He was vicious and unpredictable. But Beach knew what the horse needed just by looking at him. And it wasn’t brute force.
“A horse understands manners more than they do a cussin’,” says Beach. “You don’t have to hit ’em. You don’t have to fuss at ’em.”
So how did the legendary blacksmith learn the language of even the most difficult horses?
First of all, Beach grew up in Kentucky as the son of a sharecropper. His parents farmed with horses. As an infant Beach went into the fields with them, perched aboard “Kate the mule“. From this vantage point young Faulkner absorbed the nuances of his four legged teacher. And, as we will hear, Beach still recalls Kate with a smile, referring to her as his first babysitter.
Furthermore, Beach spent hours watching his father at the forge. The senior Faulkner was a talented blacksmith and Beach wanted to be just like him. Little did Beach know that he would be the blacksmith for great Thoroughbred Stallions in Kentucky one day. “I was just itching to get into the forge,” said Beach.
Faulkner Starts Shoeing at Ten Years Old
Beach got his turn at the age of ten when his father bought him a horse to care for. Beach quickly applied the blacksmith skills and horsemanship of his father. And found that his lessons from “Kate the mule” also applied to horses.
Later, as a young man Beach spent time shoeing various breeds of horses including Tennessee Walkers, Saddlebreds and Standardbreds. He credits understanding a horse’s path of flight with his feet to his own time spent studying them from behind in the jog cart.
The Blacksmith Makes an Impact with Thoroughbreds Stallions in Kentucky
Eventually Beach found his way to Thoroughbreds. He worked at the racetrack and the farms and quickly became known as a man who could handle difficult cases and troubled stallions. He also built the “Faulkner Ambulance” to help injured horses continue to move around. Movement and the ability to stand on all four feet is life-saving to horses.
As the blacksmith for Spendthrift, Gainesway, and Claiborne Farms, Beach worked with top farm managers like John Williams where he handled the great stallions like Nashua, Gallant Man, Pretense, Affirmed, Seattle Slew, Unbridled, Caro and Fleet Nasrullah.
Near the end of the podcast Beach regales us with stories of the famous Spendthrift groom Clem Brooks and their secret betting coup with Beach’s favorite stallion Blue Times. He also reflects on the legacy of his son Tyler Pate Faulkner who now shoes Kentucky’s great stallions.