Remembering Lim Couch
By Nancy Brannon, Ph.D.
The horse shoeing world of the mid-south has lost an icon– Lim Couch passed away June 13, 2014. Lim taught more folks about horse shoeing and hoof care and brought sound hoof care, and soundness, to more horses in the mid-south than any other single person.
Lim graduated from farrier school in 1966, but had been working with horses long before that. He established his horseshoeing school in 1976 – the first one in Tennessee.
For 40 years Lim Couch taught horseshoeing at Briarwood Stables on Getwell Road, Memphis, TN. During those years he taught over 1700 students, who came from every state in the U.S. and seven foreign countries, including Israel, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, and France. In addition, some of Lim’s students were inducted into the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame and one former student established his own horseshoeing school in Alabama. “It’s second and third generation horseshoeing. I’ve passed on the skill to a lot of students,” Lim recalled. “I always told my students that horseshoeing is not a job; it’s a way of life.”
Lim started shoeing Elvis Presley’s horses in 1967. He served as farrier for Elvis during his lifetime, and continued in that capacity for Graceland long after Elvis was gone, but the horses remained. [Read Tom Burris’ Mid-South Horse
Review article about Ebony’s Double at Graceland at:
[Also read the American Farriers Journal article on Lim, “Shoeing For Elvis” (July/August 1995) www.americanfarriers.com/ff/lim]
Lim always had interesting stories about the folks he met at Germantown horse shows, including meeting Doc Severenson’s daughter, August Busch, and working on Loretta Lynn’s and Lynn Anderson’s horses. He was once introduced to Lynn Anderson as the “world's greatest horseshoer,” a compliment he didn’t take lightly. “I've traveled with the world's greatest veterinarians and horseshoeing masters to get to learn their knowledge,” he said.
Lim had a natural talent for hoof care; he could look at a horse and know exactly what to do. “It’s a God-given talent,” he humbly admitted. “I have had an illustrious, enjoyable career. I’ve shod for the rich and famous and have shod world champion horses in all respects. I’ve had horses that were near being euthanized, and through proper trimming (and shoeing), they got sound again and went back to the show ring.”
In July 2001, Lim moved his Mid-South Farrier Supplies business to Hernando, Mississippi, leaving Briarwood Stables, which would soon be converted to warehousing. At the time, Lim was sad to leave. “It’s sad,” he said. “It's like losing part of your family. I’ve got third generations boarding there and I’ve seen kids grow-up.” But he and Mary Ann, and their clients, weren’t long in adapting to their new “digs” on Laughter Road, and Lim regularly held farrier clinics at his Hernando location.
Moving from Briarwood Stables to Hernando meant that Lim’s school would be the first horseshoeing school opened in Mississippi. His newest horseshoeing school bridged the transition from one phase of horseshoeing into the modern era: from the time that every shoe was hand-made to the use of ready-made shoes. He helped redesign the anvil, changing it from “blacksmith-friendly to farrier-friendly,” he described. He designed and made hand tools for farriers as well. Continuing his pursuit of excellence, he developed expertise in the medical aspects of shoeing, working mainly with foundered (laminitis) horses. “To be able to take a crippled horse and bring it back to health and use just gives me a confidence, a pride in the work that I do,” he said.
Also in 2001, the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame moved into a permanent home at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, KY. A unique addition to the awards program allowed horse owners and trainers to call attention to farriers for doing outstanding hoof care work. The Museum included a special dedication to the hundreds of farriers worldwide that would be honored by owners, trainers, fellow farriers and others. The names of 72 farriers who had already been inducted into the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame were listed on plaques. The International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame was co-sponsored by the Kentucky Derby Museum and American Farriers Journal, and its grand opening was held in mid-January, 2001.
In 2005 Lim Couch was inducted into the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame, receiving the honor in January at the International Hoof Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. By this time, the Hall of Fame had 95 members. “I’m just flattered; I'm awed to receive the award,” Lim told the Mid-South Horse Review. “It’s the equivalent of receiving an Olympic gold medal or an Oscar. It’s that important worldwide because you are nominated by your peers, not customers who just like your shoeing.” Lim always qualified his accomplishments by explaining that “my talent comes from God. I’ve been blessed with talent, and customers, and now God has given me this reward.”
Lim also served as President of the American Farriers Association in 1996 and 1997.
Read more about the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame and the inductees at:
Lim’s formula for good hoof care and keeping a horse sound was: “Proper trimming, good feed, good hay, and supplements for hoof growth. Shoeing is for protection and to enhance performance in the show ring. If you have a horse, it is important that you take care of it. Take care of the hooves to prevent serious problems, like cracks and abscesses.
“The foundation of good hoof care is proper hoof trimming on a regular basis by a knowledgeable farrier. This is very important! Regardless of what shoe you put on, if the hoof is not trimmed properly in the first place, it ain’t gonna work!” Lim cautioned.
Lim understood in great detail the hoof structure, the bones of the hoof and leg, and importance of conformation. He summarized: “Three words: form to function. Form is the conformation of the horse. How the horse is built determines how to trim the hoof. Function is the use of the horse. There are different breeds for different uses.
“Knowledge of conformation is vital!” Lim said. “The farrier and horse owner should know how the bones, ligaments, and tendons work. The horse’s conformation and ability are important factors determining the horse’s performance. Don’t ask a horse to do what he is physically incapable of doing,” Lim advised.
Long before it became trendy, Lim believed that the farrier and veterinarian should have a good working relationship. “They should share information, and the knowledge of the two working together can have great success and be very beneficial to the horse. Do your homework on both farriers and veterinarians!” he advised.
The other half of Lim’s hoof care team is his wife Mary Ann Couch, who runs the store. Mid-South Farrier Supplies stocks every type of supply a farrier could need, plus supplements, all kinds of tack, saddles, grooming products, and horse clothing. Lim’s and Mary Ann’s philosophy is soundly simple: “Be honest. If I don’t believe in a product, I won’t sell it or promote it.” In his later years in Hernando, Lim may have been “retired” from horse shoeing, as Mary Ann took charge of the store, but he was always available to advise and educate. “We try to get our customers’ questions answered and help them solve problems. We try to be cost efficient, and tend to the personal needs of our customers,” they said.
All in all, Lim saw that his life “has been an awesome trip. I’ve enjoyed it and the Lord has really blessed me.” He kept a sense of humor about life too, making jokes about his name: “There's a couch in every house,” he would say. Now the man with the common name has received his most uncommon reward.
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