Isaac Hyatt and Rick Carey are throwbacks to another time. The two craftsmen have found vocations that would have been common more than 100 years ago, but they are out of the ordinary today.
One repairs windup clocks in a digital age. The other keeps horses’ hoofs in shape, while the world uses motor vehicles for transportation.
Rick Carey, who works out of Ye Olde Clock Shoppe in League City, says the reason he got into repairing timepieces was simple.
“I heard it was a dying art and, being a contrarian, I decided to go into it,” he said. “It was either that or blacksmithing.”
Actually, his decision came from financial need. Carey sold bar and restaurant supplies back in the 1980s and when the price of oil dropped drastically, business dried up. Inspired by a friend who went back to school to become a massage therapist, Carey decided to go into watchmaking, which led to clock repair. He got his start a little earlier, however.
“I took apart my first clock when I was 12,” he said. “I took it apart and put it back together. It didn’t run.”
There is a little more to the story.
“One summer I found some clocks in the attic and I got one, took it apart and put it together,” he said. “My mother saw me and gave me holy hell about it.”
About 15 years later, he retrieved the clock from his mother’s without her knowledge and restored the timepiece for her birthday.
She wanted nothing to do with it.
“She said, ‘I don’t want that clock; it ticks too loud and keeps me up at night. Why do you think it was in the attic?’ Carey said. “That was the first clock I worked on. It only took me 16 years to finish it.”
He’s a little faster now.
“From start to finish, it usually takes about a week,” he said.
The process of repairing a clock is complex. It generally requires three complete teardowns and reconstructions, two cleanings and making any repairs that may be needed. Then the clock has to be run for a week or two to check its accuracy.
Hyatt’s job as a farrier is a little different. First, he doesn’t have a shop.
“I have all my tools in a sack and just do it out of a vehicle,” the Santa Fe resident said.
Hyatt is also quick to point out that he doesn’t shoe horses — he just trims their hoofs.
“I don’t like shoeing, because it takes years off a horse’s life,” he said. “When you open the foot up, infections and parasites can get in through the nail holes and cause problems.”
Hyatt has been working as a farrier since he was 13. His father, Earl Hyatt, owned a horse ranch in Grapeland.
“I had my own horses, too, so it was cheaper on the both of us,” he said.
There is more art than science to being a farrier.
“Every horse trimmer should have a person walk the horse away from him and then toward him before he ever touches the horse,” Hyatt said. “Then you can see how the horse turns in or out and what to correct. If they are walking crooked, the bones can grow crooked.”
Getting the bottom of the hoof just right is important.
“If you take too much of the heel off, it’s like you’re walking around on your heels all day,” Hyatt said. “If you take too much of the toe off, it’s like you’re walking on your toes all day. If you don’t get that nice level, it causes sore tendons and bowing.”
The father of six said there are future farriers in his brood, particularly his 8-year-old, Tristian.
“Every time I go to trim a horse, he comes along,” Hyatt said.