Horse owners have always looked for ways to reuse horseshoes. The classic game of the same name is believed to have originated in ancient Greece. Camp followers that did work for the Greek army were said to have invented it as a pastime. They would throw rudimentary horseshoes at a stake in imitation of the discus, which they could not afford. Used horseshoes were much more economical. Valerie Greene, of Greene Farm in Peachland, NC, has also found a good way to redeem the life of old horseshoes. Instead of using them as a game piece, she crafts them into art.
Valerie is a Union County native. Having grown up on a farm, her entire life has been about cattle. She received a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from NC State University and now runs Greene Farm. Greene Farm raises beef without hormones, antibiotics or animal by-products. Her husband, Mike, helps with the farm in his spare time, but he is primarily a farrier, which means he shoes horses. Valerie explained that, “I would use the old horseshoes for decorating around my house. I started giving items as gifts to friends as well, and it grew from that.”
Her business officially began about five years ago. Now Valerie’s Horseshoe Art offers anything that can be possibly designed with horseshoes. She likes to try new things and takes custom orders. Some common items she sells are coat racks, wine racks and boot racks. She also sells decorative designs such as wreaths, crosses, cows, moosehead, snowmen, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, butterflies, flowers, collegiate items, and single names or words spelled out in horseshoes.
Valerie said, “You must have an ample supply of old horseshoes to keep up! This would qualify as a dirty job- these horses have packed dirt in the nooks and crannies of these shoes for months and it has to be cleaned out before they are welded and painted. I get very dirty and dusty cleaning them.”
After cleaning the shoes, Valerie lays them out in a pattern, cutting and shaping the pieces as needed. “That’s the fun part to me. It’s like working a big puzzle. They need to be proportionate in size, sometimes symmetrical. Then they are welded together,” she said. Depending on the project, some horseshoes are left their natural color, while others are painted to accentuate the design. Collegiate items have to take on the school colors, of course.
Valerie sometimes takes her art to local farmers markets and craft shows. Most of the decorative pieces range in price between $10 and $30, but some items cost more. She can make a firepit for $125, and the double boot rack is $75.
Valerie’s art can be viewed and purchased at the Created In The Carolinas Co-op Gift Shop, located at 216 W North Main Street, Waxhaw. Valerie’s work is also displayed on her Facebook page, named Valerie’s Horseshoe Art, as well as on the “Horseshoe Items” page on the Greene Farm Natural Beef website, www.greenefarmbeef.com. Potential customers can call 704-221-5227 or email email@example.com for more information or special requests.