Bob has always had a strong interest in horses and at the age of 20 years old, began his horseshoeing career around the Des Moines, Iowa area. “There just was a need for a horseshoer and I thought it would be interesting work. Besides, it would be a way to make an extra dollar or two and I could really use that,” Bob said. Little did he know that horseshoeing would turn into a 56 year (and still counting) career and a passion that only other horseshoers can truly understand.
Bob married his best friend and the love of his life Margaret shortly after he graduated from high school. Margaret graduated from high school one year ahead of Bob but was only a few months older than him. He always teased her that she had robbed the cradle. Her response was that she thought she could raise him how she wanted him but she was terribly mistaken and that it had turned into a never ending job. Bob first worked in construction, following in his father’s (Mike) footsteps. The work was good but bad weather would mean no work and no pay. This was about the time Bob began shoeing horses to fill in for the lost income from bad weather in his construction job and so began Bob Urich’s horseshoeing career. About the time his shoeing career began to take off, he was offered the position of Job Foreman at his construction job.
After long discussions with Margaret, they decided that he should follow his passion of shoeing horses (Bob and Margaret had three children and a fourth to soon follow at this time. Jodi, Lori, Jon, and Linda). Business was slow and very seasonal to begin with. So, Bob began delivering the Des Moines Register and Tribune newspapers. This meant rising extra early to get the morning paper out, shoeing horses until it was time to deliver the evening paper, and then after the evening paper was delivered, it was back to shoeing horses to finish out the day. Bob loved shoeing horses and was more than willing to do whatever it took until he had enough business to make a living at it. That only took a few years as the word spread quickly about his strong work ethic and good work.
When Bob first started shoeing horses, things were much different. There were only a couple of horseshoeing schools in the country. The older, more experienced horseshoers looked at younger horseshoers as competition and not as someone struggling to gain knowledge. It was not that uncommon for an experienced horseshoer to stop working and simply put down his tools when another horseshoer was present. This way no trade secrets were given away. Luckily, a horseshoer named John Daken took a liking to Bob and was willing to show him how to improve his shoeing and forging . With John’s help, Bob’s shoeing and forging became a much wanted service for some of the nation’s top show horses. Bob has shod numerous World Champions, but two different pair of World Champions still make Bob smile. The first pair belonged to Dean Landers. They were the first of many World Champions Bob would have the pleasure to shoe. The second pair belonged to Cliff Wellings. This would be the first time in history that a full brother and sister would stand as World Champions the same year. Bob’s drive to be the best he can be is obvious by the countless number of clinics, magazines, books, and videos he has attended, read, or watched over the years.
Bob has passed on his love for shoeing horses to his son, Jon. He is proud to see Jon making a living in his footsteps. Horseshoeing has been a wonderful way of life for Bob and he would do it all over again with only a few changes. First and foremost, he would cut back on the number of hours spent shoeing horses. Too much of a good thing can be hard on one’s body and the quality time spent with one’s family. He would tell anyone who was thinking of becoming a horseshoer , to put their family first and to take care of their body. Like most horseshoers, Bob dislikes doing muddy feet and unruly horses. Looking back on his career, Bob can’t help but grin when he remembers where he started to where he is today. From trimming anything with four hooves, to shoeing the high end performance horses. It has been a wonderful journey that is not over yet.
From its beginning, the IPFA has brought horseshoers together. New friendships were formed. Knowledge that had previously been kept a trade secret, were now being freely shared . To be there at the beginning of the IPFA and to still see the IPFA producing friendships and better horseshoers today, means a lot to Bob. He believes that an individual should take pride in their work, but should not let that pride become a stumbling block for knowledge and friendships.
In closing, Bob would like to thank all who have been a part of his horseshoeing career. To all the owners, barn help, veterinarians, trainers, and horseshoers that not only are part of his trade, but are some of his best friends. Many of which have also been heavily involved in the IPFA. Thank You!!!