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The topic of personal and business ethics has been on my mind since the 2012 International Hoof-Care Summit. During a panel discussion regarding the ethical responsibilities in the farrier, veterinarian and owner relationship, one of the experts on the panel advocated walking away from a client if you had an ethical dilemma with that owner or trainer.
Shortly thereafter, a young farrier addressed the room, admitting that it would be a tough move for him to walk away from clients, as he has a new practice and clients are difficult to come by. To summarize, it would be right to drop these types of clients, but doing so makes it harder to keep a roof over his head and food on the table.
It is easy to pass judgment and remind this shoer that your character is your true measurement. But if you are a well-established farrier who feels it is the easy choice to walk away, how distant are those memories of struggling financially as a novice farrier? How powerful was that fear of what losing a few horses would do to your practice?
Following the Summit, another farrier told me about an ethical issue. A well-known, influential farrier had just moved to the area. According to this storyteller, the relocated farrier visited many riding barns in the area, telling the owners that he would be a good choice for their hoof-care needs, despite these owners already having farriers. At no point did…