It's no secret that farriers are considered a pretty handy lot.
Besides their horseshoeing skills, it’s not unusual for farriers to be able to make and repair their own tools, forge decorative ironwork, build, modify and repair their own shoeing rigs and to have a few special gadgets in the workshop that they built themselves.
But are today’s younger farriers as handy as their older counterparts?
That’s the opinion of Mark Miller of Huntsville, Ala. Miller first started shoeing horses more than 30 years ago.
“The lack of skills in some farriers is very disturbing to me,” he told American Farrier Journal editors during a roundtable session at the American Farrier’s Association (AFA) convention in Lexington, Ky., during March.
He sees the situation as similar to one he sees in his “other” job — as an emergency room orthopedic surgeon.
“It used to be that the guys who became orthopedic surgeons weren’t necessarily the top guys in medical school,” he says. “What they did have going for them was that a lot of them were athletes, or had spent time working on cars, that kind of thing. They had good eye-hand coordination.”
He watched that change over the years as orthopedic surgery, ironically, began attracting better students.
“The orthopedic residents are getting smarter and smarter,” he says. “But they’re getting worse with their hands.”
Miller, who shod horses to put himself through medical school and still shoes part-time, thinks the same is true of many…