Columbus, OH – Richard M. “Dick” Neville, 75, longtime farrier who plied his trade for over 60 years from Indiana to Ohio to Florida, died Tuesday (March 24) at Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus (OH) due to kidney complications.
Born in Franklin, IN on Nov. 30, 1944 to the late Carl K. and Alice (Fleener) Neville, he began shoeing his own ponies at the age of 14 and would reach the pinnacle of his profession as he worked with some of the greatest horses in harness racing, many of them enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Neville started at the Franklin (OH) Fairgrounds and made the decision to go to Louisville, KY as a teenager. He was always a busy and sought after man from then on out. He credited Bruce Nickells for getting him his shop on the training side in Pompano (FL) in the late `60s and was almost immediately approached by Dick Baker, Stanley Dancer’s longtime second trainer, who inquired if he “could take on half of these horses of ours?” That evolved into shoeing all of them.
Hall of Famers Delvin Miller, George Sholty, Howard Beissinger, Bill Popfinger, Glen Garnsey, Hakan Walner, Team Nordin as well as an untold number of trainers’ animals from the race side would journey to his shop, which was the scene of constant activity as he often worked late into the night. During the summer months, Scioto Downs, just south of Columbus, OH, was his home base for over 38 years as he added Chip Noble, Terry Holton, Dave Rankin, Gene Reigle and countless others to his client list as he traveled to fairgrounds and farms throughout the state.
In his later years, Neville would say “I am so thankful to so many people who gave me all the opportunities that I had to work with so many great horses.”
In Dean Hoffman’s 2005 article “Shoer to the Stars,” it was written that all the great horses he had shod were “too many to list.”
Many of the champions Neville shod for their entire careers and could recite the type of shoes, toe length and angles as well as their particular idiosyncrasies. More times than not, he would have an amusing anecdote to tell about each of them.
Among them, there are numerous Little Brown Jug and Hambletonian winners included. He would always add with a laugh “not too bad for a short, bald-headed guy from Indiana, eh?”
When asked how he’d shoe a horse he’d say, “I just keep them comfortable” but he worked closely with Doctors John Steele and Edwin Churchill as they often conferred and asked his opinion. Stanley Dancer once described him as “the best blacksmith in the business.”
An unyielding workload for so many years took a toll on his system and he was plagued with deteriorating knee and shoulder joints and reluctantly had to retire from shoeing in 2016.
This past December, he was nominated to the Ohio Harness Hall of Fame for consideration in 2021.
A member of the U.S. Trotting Association and the OHHA as an owner/breeder, Neville had previously operated his farm, sold hay and was always a shrewd Belgium horse dealer out of Mt Sterling, OH. He was a Free Mason as well.
Besides his parents, he was predeceased by his old brother Larry “Bubba” Neville, also a good wrestler and football player in high school.
He is survived by four daughters, a son, and several grandchildren.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, a small private funeral service will be held in Mt. Sterling on Wednesday (April 1) with internment in the family plot at Forest Lawn Memorial Garden in Greenwood, IN at a later date.
To share your stories or to offer condolences go to the Porter-Tidd Funeral Home website at
In lieu of any flowers, please make donations to the Standardbred Transition Alliance in memory of all the horses that he truly cared about.
And as Neville would say: “Stay healthy.”