Corrals, Bucking Broncs Among Cowboy Artifacts
by Gail Blackburn
Larry Peterson of Whiteville, Tenn. has a new hobby - horseshoes. No, not the game. He cleans, cuts, bends and welds them together to create bucking broncs, rearing horses, corrals and cowboys sitting atop horses, and some even carrying the American flag.
Larry started this new venture in the spring of 2001. He enjoys making things in his spare time. He envisioned a cowboy. The horseshoes were scarce at first, but then he put the word out, and now with the help of farriers, he accumulates used, discarded horseshoes - hundreds of them at a time now.
This is a self-taught hobby using nothing but an anvil, vise, wrench, hammer, welder, saw and a wire brush. Heat is not used in the process to bend the shoes. It is definitely "manual" labor.
He started out making cowboys. Then a friend suggested he make horses. That became a little more complicated and time consuming, since he had to cut them.
After Larry receives the horseshoes, he removes all nails and cleans them using just a wire brush and lots of elbow grease. Cleaning solvents are not used.
After deciding what design he wants to make, the hard part begins. All the shoes are bent on an anvil using nothing but a hammer or put in a vise. Some need to be cut, as for the horse's head and ears. That requires a saw - again, all by hand. No electric power.
Once all the pieces are cut and formed, they are welded together. Even detail work, such as the mane, is done using a welder.
When the piece is finished, it is again cleaned with a wire brush and sprayed using a clear lacquer to prevent rust.
The cowboy's hat is made using a bent flat washer and a square head bolt.
The time involved in making one horse from start to finish is four hours - for a cowboy sitting on top of a horse requires 8-1/2 to 9 hours.
And after you have a horse, it is only natural you have a corral to hold him. The corral is made using steel bars with a working gate. The name of your farm or ranch can be affixed to the top of the gateway entrance. The corral comes complete with a cowboy sitting the rails. This is the most time consuming project - 16 hours.
Although Larry sticks mainly to cowboys and horses, he has made a few bulls and will custom-make an order. Just recently, he made a bucking longhorn bull, using nails for horns. Another customer wanted a horse and rider racing barrels. No problem, just what side do you want the horse to turn, was his only question.
Considering the time and work involved, prices are reasonable, $60 for a cowboy/horse, a flag horse and $200 for the corral, complete with cowboy.
On the days Larry isn't "horseing" around, you'll find him at Somerville Livestock Market working the cattle or hauling cattle or collecting antiques. He usually has a sample of his work on the seat of his truck for anyone interested.
For an interesting and conversational piece of horseshoe art, give Larry a call at 731-254-8711.
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