Day At The Track

Noted farrier John "Johnny" Long, has died

06:24 AM 08 Jul 2015 NZST
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ORLANDO, FL--Noted former Grand Circuit farrier John "Johnny" Long, 91, passed away at his daughter's home in Summerville, SC on June 24.

A native of Topeka, KS, Long began a life-long association with horses as a youngster. A member of the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II, he developed his blacksmithing skills while working with the mounted beach patrols in Charleston, SC. He later found employment with both Standardbred and Thoroughbred horses at racing centers in Aiken, SC, Orlando, FL and Vernon Downs in upstate NY.

Long was credited with keeping the great pacing sire Adios comfortable during his later years. "His feet hurt so badly he could barely stand the weight of his own body," Long recalled. "I developed a set of shoes that enabled him to spread his weight evenly, which made him more comfortable."

Based at Orlando's Ben White Raceway during winter training, Long chose a nomadic life by shifting his family to Vernon Downs during the spring and summer racing seasons, shoeing horses for many of the Grand Circuit's top trainers, such as Del Miller, Ralph Baldwin, Ned Bower, among many others. It was normal for him to work with from four to seven horses each day, with a high of 12 being called "a long day."

Long, who shod many of the top horses in harness racing during his distinguished career, was well known for being able to correct hoof and balance problems. "I remember when I had the great trotter Kimberly Kid," the late Bower recalled. "He had feet so shelly they almost refused to accept the nails needed to hold the shoes on. Johnny would take up to two hours--some 90 minutes more than usual--to get his feet just right. In my opinion, he was the ultimate in shoeing horses; particularity gifted with trotters," Bower added.

Not a big man as horse-shoers go, Long was known to work 12-13 hour days. When the Grand Circuit left Vernon to head westward in late July, Long would follow along, packing up the tools of his trade, work out of a tent and sleep on site during the many one-week stays that usually ended in the fall at Lexington's "Red Mile" in KY. He was also called on by trainers to fly into tracks for special assignments.

Long was pre-deceased by his long-time, loving wife Mattie. He was also the devoted father of Johnelle Long Pauley (Jack), Bobby Long (Chris), Matt Long and Leslie Long Caddell (Dayne), as well as the grandfather of four and great grandfather of eight. Long's ashes will be interned with his wife (Mattie) in Charleston, SC this fall.

Those wishing to send condolences, thoughts or comments may do so at the following link: In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to the project of one's choice to aid wounded members of the U. S. military, or to a Shriners Hospital for Children.

Jim Moran

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