Dave Farley, left, and Tom Martin with Farley’s shoeing rig in Wellington, Fla. Martin, a farrier from Auburn, N.Y., joined Farley in Florida for 3 days, courtesy of Farrier Product Distribution. As an educational partner of the International Hoof-Care Summit, the Shelbyville, Ky., company sponsored a “Day With A Clinician,” drawing which Martin won. Farley, a member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame, is a clinician for FPD.

Tom Martin is far from a novice farrier. He’s been shoeing horses since 1975. Still, the farrier from Auburn, N.Y., says he had an eye-opening experience earlier this year when he spent 3 days in the Wellington, Fla., area with International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame member Dave Farley.

Farrier Product Distribution of Shelbyville, Ky., sponsored Martin’s trip. Martin’s name was drawn as the winner of a “Day With A Clinician” prize while he was attending the 2010 International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. As an educational partner in the Summit, FPD agreed to reward one attendee with a personalized shoeing clinic. In this case, the trip was spent with Farley, a popular clinician for the company.

As far as Martin is concerned, FPD went above and beyond anything he could have expected. Like many high-end hunter and jumper shoers, Farley spends part of the year shoeing in Florida and part of the year further north. FPD opted to have Martin join Farley in Florida instead of Coshocton, Ohio.

“They bought my airline ticket and paid for my hotel,” Martin says. “It was a terrific opportunity. It was part vacation and part a chance to learn.”

Martin made his trip to Wellington from March 30 to April 1. He noted that was a particularly nice time to get out of still-wintery upstate New York and into a little Florida sunshine.

“Some of the people were complaining about it being a little cold in the mornings, but I was wearing short sleeve shirts,” he recalls. “It was still in the low 20s at home.”

Shoeing Teamwork On Display

Martin joined Farley and his son, Jay, on their regular shoeing rounds. He was impressed with what he saw while watching the pair work,

“Dave and Jay have a pretty good system,” he says. “They don’t mess around or waste time.”

Martin says he didn’t exactly “jump in” and join in the hoof-care work because the Farleys worked together so well as a team.

“I didn’t want to be in the way of what they were doing,” he says. “I did grab a broom and sweep up, things like that. Dave invited me to come back down for a week next winter. I hope I can do that and get more involved.”

Martin did watch closely and asked a lot of questions.

“Dave was a terrific host,” Martin notes, adding that the Hall Of Fame shoer took the time to answer questions in detail.

Florida Differences

Martin mentioned some differences in the shoeing he saw the Farleys doing as opposed to what he sees at home.

tom_m_3.jpg

Tom Martin looks over a hind shoeing job after it was complete by Farley. Martin noted that the big warmbloods Farley shoes require heavier shoeing than many of the smaller horses he sees in New York.

“Generally, they are shoeing the horses a little heavier,” he says. “But they are also dealing with bigger, heavier horses; a lot of big European warmbloods.”

Martin also saw first hand the constant battle Florida farriers fight with the effects of the ever-present sand.

“I do a lot of hot shoeing, but Dave hot shoes everything,” Martin says. “He says the feet stay together better that way. He also does these horses every 4 or 5 weeks.”

Martin’s own practice involves shoeing “a little bit of everything except gaited horses.”

“I shoe hunters and jumpers, dressage horses, some Paso Finos, Western pleasure horses, some horses used in English-style riding and a lot of Quarter Horses,” he says. “But I noticed down there, there seems to be less cross-over. You have guys that are doing mostly hunters, or mostly jumpers, or polo ponies or dressage horses. There seems to be more specialization.”

Martin says one change he did make in his own shoeing as a result of this learning experience was to start using a finishing rasp.

“Dave definitely got me to do that. I could really see that they do a nice job,” he says. “I had always used a worn down rasp for finishing and now I can definitely see the difference.”

Wellington World

Martin was amazed by a lot of what he saw in Wellington, probably the premier horse show location in the United States.

“That’s a whole different world than what I’m used to,” Martin says. “I’ve seen nice barns before, of course, but there are so many of them down there. It’s just phenomenal to see what people spend on their horses down there.

“I think the horses live better than I do,” he added with a chuckle.

Another thing that struck Martin was the number of farriers working in the area.

“I have never seen so many shoeing rigs in one area in my life,” he says. “There was one place where there was a 3-by-5-foot cork board on the wall and it was full of farrier business cards.”

Farley also invited Martin to his home and explained how he uses his computer to help keep his shoeing business organized. Martin says Farley also shared some of his other business ideas.

“His business knowledge is just amazing,” says Martin. “Dave is a very, very good horseshoer. But he’s a superior businessman. He dots his I’s and crosses every T.”

Martin says he’ll try to apply a few of the ideas he picked up from Farley to his own business, but doubts he’ll ever get quite as efficient.

“I’d like to be more that way, but I’m probably never going to be in his league,” Martin says. “He’s pretty handy on the computer.”

Martin has attended the International Hoof-Care Summit four times. He expressed his gratitude to FPD for sponsoring his trip, as well as to the Farleys for hosting him.

“Dave is a super guy and a super host. He and his family treated me really well,” he says. “I always enjoy learning from watching another farrier work, and FPD gave me a great opportunity to watch a great farrier.”