|Pearsall, Texas, Hometown of George Strait and Eddie Casas|
Russellville resident Eddie Casas can’t say he knew George Strait, but they grew up a block apart in Pearsall, Texas. Eddie was younger so he never knew Strait; George was already pursuing his dream and we all know how that turned out. Eddie’s dream, as it turned out, would take him a few years to realize and require some hard work, support from friends and family, and tenacity. Growing up in town, Eddie’s only exposure to horses was through relatives who had ranching interests around Pearsall. This limited contact sparked a love of horses that would take years to grow and blossom.
How did you come to live in Alabama?
"After high school, I moved to Chicago where I worked for Osco Drugs in the distribution department and was doing videotaping part-time for a church and also some weddings. My best friend in Chicago was marrying a girl from Aberdeen, Mississippi, in her home town, so I traveled there to the wedding. Teresa Cooper, the bride’s cousin, was introduced to me and we talked some after the ceremony. Back in Chicago, I began to think about the connection she and I seemed to have, so I called her. We talked on the phone, wrote letters and I eventually talked Teresa into moving to Chicago where we were married in Arlington Heights in 1991. My exposure to horses was minimal, but Teresa had shown Walking Horses, barrel raced and had a lot of experience with horses. Our goal was to own land and have horses to ride and love, but in Illinois that was not going to be possible. So in 1992, we moved to Haleyville, Alabama. I secured a job with Cusata Wood Products and we bought our first horse, an Appaloosa gelding. Then in 1994, we bought a small house with some land in the east Franklin County area and added more horses."
How did you get into shoeing horses?
"When you have several horses, shoeing and trimming becomes expensive. Teresa suggested I learn to shoe our horses. Teresa’s dad, Razzie, showed me the basics. I bought some tools and began. Craig Thomas, a local farrier, was shoeing most of our horses and I would attempt a couple with his help. Craig would look at my work and tell me what I had done wrong or right. I watched him and others, asked a lot of questions and read every book I could find on horseshoeing. In 1996, I left Cussata to go to Jemson Manufacturing, where Mr. Teddy Dollar was the plant manager. By this time, I was shoeing all of our horses and beginning to shoe four to six horses for the public on weekends. In 1998, I moved from Jemson to Winston Furniture and my horseshoeing on the weekends increased. I also began to shoe for my old boss, Teddy Dollar, who had several horses."
Then in 2000, a horse Eddie was riding fell on him breaking his leg severely. He was out of work for several months and was overwhelmed by the generosity and compassion of his friends, neighbors and customers in his time of need. Teddy Dollar donated a registered Quarter Horse colt to be raffled off and the proceeds given to the Casas family.
While off work, Casas toyed with the idea of making horseshoeing a full-time career, but he just wasn’t sure he could make a living for his family, which now included Teresa and four boys, Cory, Justin, Austin and Bailey. He lost his job at Winston Furniture while injured, but was able to secure employment with Harden’s Manufacturing in Bear Creek and began shoeing up to 12 horses on the weekends. After about four years at Harden’s, Eddie left to work for James Glenn at Country Expressions in Double Springs, also a furniture manufacturer. During this time, he began to shoe horses at KC Horse Camp, also in Double Springs, and he broadened his customer base by meeting people from Birmingham and Tuscaloosa as well as gaining more from the local area. Late in 2005, Eddie developed severe allergies to the lumber and dust involved in furniture manufacturing, so the search began for a job outside the furniture business. The dream to start his own farrier business was still there, but so was the uncertainty.
Securing a job with Running P Ropes in Muscle Shoals, Casas thought he would enjoy making lariat ropes and this would fit well with his horseshoeing on the weekends. Then his phone began to ring constantly and before he knew it, he was booked for a week and then another, so he called Mr. Bigbee at Running P and thanked him for the job offer, but he had to try to make his dream a reality. Four years later, with a larger customer base reaching from the Shoals to Birmingham and Hamilton to Moulton, the dream is alive and growing. This year, he had his first Customer Appreciation Day at the Union Community Center with a live band, plenty of food and much good fellowship. The Casas family plan to make this an annual affair to show how much they value their customers.
How many horses do you typically do in a year’s time?
"In a year, I will do around 22 hundred horses which is basically 45 a week. The most full shoeings I have done in a day is 13 and the most trims is 17."
What do you like most about your career choice?
"Being able to spend time with Teresa and the boys. Teresa goes with me when she can and the boys have all spent time with me shoeing horses. The other thing I like is all the good friends and quality relationships I have made in my travels. Horseshoeing has enabled me to do something I love, be my own boss and make a good living, which is something few people can say."
Eddie, who is basically a self-taught farrier credits other farriers like Craig Thomas, Jeff Landers and Robert at Blackwater Forge among others for answering his questions and giving him advice in his quest of fulfilling his dream.
For those of you who need a horse shod, Eddie offers a good rate and also customer service. You can reach him at (256) 460-0147. For those of you who just have to shoe your own horse, your local Quality Co-op has a full line of shoeing tools as well as shoes and nails. And as always, your local Co-op strives to earn and keep your business.
Don Linker is an outside salesman for AFC.