The Blacksmith be a Lady

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

Hear ye! Be it known that not all smiths in the kingdom are of the masculine sort!

For some thereby do wear skirts, do sip cups of tea, and do sing a lilting tune from their slender throats or speak softly to a nervous equine, in time to the forging of the nail.

Whoa! Methinks it is best to cut the garble of Henry and speak heretofore not of the King’s English, but in a vernacular of the modern time.

Folks, it’s hereby a Queendom, and our lady smith doth wear blue jeans and cowboy boots, nay a skirt.

She does speak kindly to the animals, but she doesn’t sip tea, opting instead for the harsher fare of a whiskey shot, after hours.

She’s pretty, she’s knowledgeable, and she’s strong.

Her name is Kelli Wendell-Rhoderick and she comes from down Butler-way, in the Fenelton area of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Having been fond of animals since her childhood days, working with horses comes naturally to Rhoderick, and she owns four equine of her own.

A wife and also a mother of 3 children, she and the Rhoderick family like to spend together-time out trail riding near their current home in Hadley.

Part of the reason she became a farrier is because she couldn’t get a blacksmith to come out to her barn for just one horse.

Does she go out to someone’s barn for just one horse?

The answer is a yes, because usually where there’s one horse, there may be more. . .things could change, more horses arrive or are purchased at the barn, or neighboring barns can hook-up on a schedule for when the farrier is in the area.

Rhoderick attended the Maryland Horseshoeing School in Smithsburg, MA, and is a certified Journeyman Level 1 Farrier.

The school in Smithsburg runs several options for learners interested in farrier work, and Rhoderick undertook a 15-week, full time course that held in-class sessions and hands-on work, five days per week.

Two days per week were spent actually forging, fitting, and working with metal and horse shoes, and then as the students gained knowledge and experience, in-field work was done out on local farms in the community, just like a real traveling blacksmith.

Special cases of lame horses or horses with troubling hoof issues would be brought into to the school.

As the class progressed, the forging work went up to 3 days per week, with 3 horses per day.

The more experienced students would help the newer, incoming students with tips and insight into their craft.

All prospective smiths were required to take an Anatomy class on the horse and hoof.

Everyone knows the importance of the hoof parts, the laminae, the sole, and of course, the coffin bone.

There was also book keeping classes to show how to track appointments, log each horse and its problems at a client’s barn, how to watch inventory to know when to purchase new items, and how to keep accounting records and formulate figures for tax season.

Farrier students undertook direct observation and participation to accumulate the skills and knowledge required to set out on their own.

Kelli Rhoderick is a member of the BSFA, or Brotherhood of Working Farriers Association, to which she has paid monetary dues to be a member.

There is an active farriers fund, to help injured farriers in a financial manner, because the work can be dangerous.

Rhoderick sports a friendly, light-hearted demeanor, works efficiently, and handles the horses in a calm, level-headed manner.

She is knowledgeable about hoof problems, and calls issues to the attention of the horse owner; she makes suggestions problem resolutions, and will ask the owner which course of action they would like her to take.

Rhoderick is pretty handy with the forge and anvil, and fashions various works of art out of metal, in a separate, side-line business.

Her metalcraft company, “Unbridled Steel Creations” fabricates home, office, and garden decor out of heavy metal, and everything is hand-forged.

Items such as shepherd’s hooks, plant hangers and hooks, garden stakes with balls or geometrical shapes, office and desk trinkets or wall art, metal stands large or small, knick-knacks such as small metal hearts or twisted horseshoe nails, jewelry, Steam Punk or what-have-you, can all be custom-made at Unbridled Steel Creations.

Prices range from $20, on up to an $800 custom-made bar light for a man cave.

The ambitious Rhoderick is also undertaking a new business endeavor for craft and horse lovers, a totally unique experience of novice-style learning of the blacksmith trade, along with a tasty reward offered after working over the hot forge.

“Smith ‘n’ Sip” will teach you introductory-level hot-forging technique so you can twist and bend your own unique design from straight metal into a simple geometrical shape or marker, small plant hanger, short shepherd’s hook, or even small Steam Punk items, in a blacksmith’s style.

Afterwards, the class will retire to a relaxing man cave or she-shed for some after-forging imbibing.

Smith 'n' Sip will offer home-made spirits, cocktails, and sweet iced-tea or coffee, served with light snacks and fellowship with those in the crafting, heavy metal, and horse trades.

It will suit crafters, a boys’ night or girls’ night out, or those seeking to try something different and exclusive.

The 2-hour, weekend session-experience with a 2-drink limit, will run about $75 to $100, all inclusive, and will be located at Rhoderick’s barn, down in Hadley.

Part of the fees will be donated to two local charities in the Mercer and Crawford County areas.

Sign me up! Forge a craft! It sounds like a lot of fun.

My good gentry, ‘sheart, she’s-a-good-‘un, (1) by golly, no fafoodle here. (2)

But, I dare not draw the longbow, (3) for fear of soundin’ like a fonkin or fopdoodle. (4)

My erstwhile (5) vernacular mayhap causes me to miss my scandal water (6) or to have to kiss the hare’s foot. (7)

Blessings and Godspeed for one and all, to the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails to You.”

References: Olde English:

1: ‘sheart: Shortening of the phrase “God’s heart,” meaning to take an oath, to speak the truth.

2: fafoodle: nonsense

3: Draw the longbow: One who is fond of spinning yarns and tales

4: a fool

5: erstwhile: Things that belong to a former time

6: tea, the best brew to sip while gossiping

7: Kiss the hare’s foot: Being so late for supper that you have to eat scraps and leftovers.