There are times when farriers just find themselves stuck on a horseshoeing problem. No matter what you try, you just can’t wiggle your way out of it.
Steve Teichman finds himself facing all sorts of hoof-related problems in his role as farrier for the U.S. Olympic team. Here are four tips to help you figure your way out of a jam.
Keep An Open Mind
Don’t begin looking at a problem by saying which techniques are wrong. Rather, look at the environment that allows for these techniques to fall together in the first place.
“I think horseshoers have a habit of getting stuck in a cycle of it has to be this or that,” the Unionville, Pa., farrier says. “When you get stuck in an environment like this and you get to see how other farriers work and how other countries manage things, it broadens your horizon tremendously. You realize that, ‘Wow, there’s much more that I need in my practice as a horseshoer.’”
Imagine The Possibilities
A healthy way to view problems is treat horses like possibilities rather than fixed structures. There are going to be times when a farrier is going to be bombarded from all sides with differing views from veterinarians, trainers and owners. The trick is to avoid presumption.
Information goes where your awareness goes, says U.S. Olympic Team farrier Steve Teichman. Avoid limiting your focus and disregarding other information.
Photo couresty of Steve Teichman
“Sometimes where you really butt heads is when you’ve got everybody giving you their way of seeing things,” Teichman says. “I much prefer to look at things as possibilities. I do not ever, ever want to limit my outcomes. I don’t want someone to tell me the horse has a specific type of pathology and then have my blinders on.”
It’s easier said than done, particularly when you are weighing the opinions of respected hoof-care professionals.
“I’m very careful about how much outside information I let influence my thoughts,” he says. “Those thoughts are going to limit my outcomes. You have to be able to take the information that these others are giving you and you have to be able to put it in a place where it doesn’t override your good judgment. I don’t want it to be so influential that I’m going to get stuck. I want to have as many options as possible.”
One of the ways to help you avoid limiting your outcomes is to “notice what you notice.”
“Trust what shows up in your awareness, even if it doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense,” Teichman says. “When we’re trying to solve a foot problem, somebody’s got a bad overreach, or they’ve got a crack or sore heel, but if I walk up to a horse, and if I just decide that I didn’t particularly care for a horse’s posture or its head carriage, I know that is going to be part of solving the problem.”
While it’s important to notice what you’re noticing, it’s also important to be aware that information goes where your awareness goes.
“That is, I swear, a universal law,” he says. “If I limit my focus to just dropping right down to that foot, and that’s the particular issue that we think we have in hand, yet if I disregard the other information that came to me, I’m not going to have as good a solution. I might not even get the problem solved.”
Ask And Ye Shall Receive
When you find yourself stuck on a problem, talk out loud to yourself. It doesn’t matter whether others look at you funny. What matters is finding the solution.
“Asking open-ended questions will sometimes give you a quick answer,” he says. “Sometimes the answers won’t come so quick, but it’s a good way to kick yourself into another gear.”
Some questions that you might want to ask yourself are:
- If I could see something useful, what might it be?
- What would you ask yourself?
- What might I notice if I wasn’t stuck?
“These are good questions to ask yourself when you’re working on a problem,” Teichman says. “It’s a good way to keep you in the right frame of mind, keep you creative and help solve problems.”