Frank J. Buchman

Cowboy • Horseman • Writer

Legendary Horsemen Eager To Help Others Develop Their Unique Skills

Passing along their horse working skills to others was emphasis of legendary horsemen at the EquiFest of Kansas in Salina.

Moderated by veterinarian Dr. Stan O’Neil, the Legendary Kansas Horsemen Panel was a unique combination of knowledgeable horse professionals.

Gary Wiggins of Brewster is a cowboy who has developed a business making bits and spurs demanded throughout the country. “It is a great honor to do what I do for our living. Our cup ‘runneth’ over,” he said.

Lifelong horse enthusiast, Ann White owns and is head trainer at Vermillion Valley Equine Center near Belvue. She coaches the Kansas State University Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) English team. “I’m all for having fun while increasing horsemanship abilities of English riders of every caliber,” she said.

Russ Wiegers, professional farrier from Leoti, started shoeing horses when he was 18 years old and has continued 46 years. “I’ve shod a variety of horses but there is always more to learn about the trade through farrier associations,” he said.

Gary Wiggins, Brewster; Ann White, Belvue; and Russ Wiegers, Leoti, were on the Legendary Kansas Horsemen Panel at the EquiFest of Kansas in Salina.

Learning to make bits and spurs from seasoned tradesmen, Wiggins is most diverse making anything to do with cowboy gear. His abilities have been honed through variety, receiving prestigious awards and considerable media coverage.

A leader in the Kansas Horse Council, White was brainchild for the now successful EquiFest of Kansas. “I attended a number of similar attractions across the country seeing the many benefits which could also serve Kansas’ horse industry,” she said.

Initially shoeing horses for feedlots over a wide area, Wiegers now works more with arena performance horses. “There are many situations that can arise with working horses due to the high level of stress. I take special pride in therapeutics extending usefulness of top horses,” he said.

A silversmith, Wiggins learned that skill from his dad Denzil Wiggins and uses many of those “hand me down” tools. “In the business two decades, my passion is making quality gear for the working cowboy,” he said.

Active in the Kansas Hunter Jumper Association for 40 years. White has trained champions on all levels collecting national titles. “This is a family operation with crops and livestock while my daughters have also become involved in training,” she said.

Achieving the Certified Farrier status in 2018, Wiegers is emphatic about continuing education to uphold integrity of the farrier profession. “I take pride in mentoring young farriers with their careers. They soon learn it can be profitable, but a lot of arduous work,” he said.

Honored as the Academy of Western Artists Bit and Spur Maker of the Year, Wiggins initially marketed his talents at major livestock shows. “I now only go to a couple of such events but have waiting lists for my work on order,” he said.

Both Wiegers and White have developed sideline businesses merchandizing equipment important to their professions.

“It got so I couldn’t find horseshoes and farrier equipment for my own use, so I started a business now with clientele nationwide,” Wiegers said.

“It is always difficult to find the right English horse equipment, so I started a store in Wamego. I also offer English horse merchandise for sale when attending shows,” White said.

Teaching shop in high school for a time, Wiggins invites young people interested in making bits, spurs, and cowboy wares to work with him. “I learned from others and want to pass those trade skills on to the next generation,” Wiggins said.

“There is always more to learn about the farrier trade. I offer as much assistance as I can and encourage all interested in horseshoeing to join farrier associations,” Wiegers said.

“I always been a horse enthusiast although my family was not initially interested. I want to help all those people fascinated with horses to learn more about them and improve their skills,” White said.

Love for horses and their unique work in diverse trades for horse enthusiasts was most apparent in the humble legends.


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