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Setting the Standard in Equine Massage

A Farrier's Perspective -
by Tom Turner, CJF

Our horses depend on us to care for them so we must always be of a learner's mind. We learn by attending classes, clinics, reading and studying books, articles, etc.

When we read articles or attend clinics, we must remember there may be an element of truth taken to the extreme for personal gain. All of us want to be profitable but we should guard against sacrificing the horse for our benefit. This is so evident with all the "natural" ways of dealing with our horses. Some of it is good, it's been done for years, and it's just never been marketed like today. But some of it is only to make money. We must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff and throw out the information designed only to increase other's personal gain. In this way, we can keep the elements of truth that truly will benefit our horses.

From a farrier's perspective, I think there are four areas that will produce success for you and your horse.
1. Horsemanship
2. Communication
3. Skill
4. Experience

If a farrier becomes too focused in any one of these areas the other areas will suffer and your horse will suffer the most. Balance is the key. I like to call it giving the horse "Due Diligence". I never want to over-emphasize one structure or function of the foot at the expense of another. One person may focus on breakover; another will promote balanced growth rings. Someone else will promote shaping the foot to the coffin bone. The truth is, all of these are important. We need to give due diligence to the whole foot, not just one area.

Of the four areas mentioned in the list above, Horsemanship is the most important aspect of shoeing horses. Your farrier should like horses and your horse should like your farrier. If a farrier is in the business just for money, he won't be in it for long. Even if your farrier lacks a little in one area, but is a true horseman, stay with him because horsemanship cannot be learned just from books. His area of weakness will improve each year because true horsemen want to always find ways to learn and grow to become better stewards of horses.

Next is communication. You should never be intimidated when asking questions. If your farrier does not listen to you he more than likely doesn't listen to your horse either. Learn to discern between arrogance and confidence. Arrogance is telling you he/she has not been under enough horses. The more horses I shoe the more confident I am about how much I have yet to learn.

The third area is skill and this is a big one. Superior knowledge and education is a requirement, but if your farrier can't use his/her forging skills to apply it to your horse's feet properly what good is the knowledge? Answers are rarely found in a pill or a box. Answers are found by trying, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. Practice takes sweat and putting your work before your peers and accepting their constructive criticism so next time you can better serve the horse.

Last is time and experience. Remember, practice does not make perfect; practice makes permanent. You can practice any one of these areas for a long time and permanently do them wrong. Seek top quality education that will give you the best knowledge and skills. Then practice applying those skills correctly. In this way, time becomes the teacher; experience is the result.

Although the views I've offered are a farrier's perspective on building and maintaining a successful business, the same applies to every horse related profession. Pay attention to increasing your horsemanship and communication skills. Seek education to increase the skills you need to work in your profession and learn from experience. Let time work for you and you'll lay a foundation that will bring you success.

© 2002; © revisions 2007; © Proprietary Trade Secrets of EquiTouch® Systems, Inc.

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