Mark Plumlee, Mission Farrier School
For 11 years after college, I felt like I was working in a profession that wasn't right for me. After that time is when I met Mark and Karen Plumlee at Mission Farrier School. I felt Mark's passion for his school, his trade and how he could help me find passion in a "job" that I could be proud of.
Mark's school was my first "in-depth" introduction into horses, hoof care and general horsemanship. Prior to that time I hadn't worked with horses much and had certainly never picked up a foot before. After attending Mission Farrier School, I am now working full-time and making an honest living as a professional farrier thanks to the school and on-going instruction and tutelage of Mark Plumlee.
I feel incredibly fortunate to wake up every morning and do this for a living, and I am now providing for my family while shoeing horses thanks to Mark and Karen Plumlee. It is amazing to look at the feet or watch a horse walk and realize I can make an incredible difference in the horse’s soundness with proper balance parameters through trimming or shoeing. Thank you Mark and Karen Plumlee for all that you do for the farrier world.
It wasn't long ago that I met Mark Plumlee at Mission Farrier School. I had just been berated by a hardcore barefoot farrier for not taking good care of my horse’s feet, saying that I was harming my horse by putting shoes on him, while at the same time another farrier was saying that shoes were my horse's only hope. So, in the midst of the confusion, I called on Mark desperately in need of an unbiased, educated viewpoint on the situation. I'd never met Mark up to that point, so after dropping he and his wife Karen an email late one Friday afternoon, I was surprised to hear back from them that very same evening. They replied that they normally don't have class on Saturdays but that this week they were, and they had an opening at 10 a.m. — could I be there by then? I breathed a deep sigh of relief and assured them I would be there.
My horse, Rhett, being both Cushings and laminitic had some serious challenges ahead of him. I was concerned that Mark might not be able to help him, but as soon as I brought Rhett out of the trailer my fears were eased. Mark and his crew were so kind and so patient with me and with Rhett. They took amazing time with him; videotaping and watching him walk and trot both with shoes on and barefoot. As I spent the whole day with Mark, Karen and the students at Mission Farrier School, it became so very clear to me that there was something special here.
They asked lots of questions of me about Rhett, and Mark asked the students lots of questions as well. They just took the time; time with Rhett, time with me, time with Mark & Karen. It was a bit like having a warm blanket put on me. I started to soak up all the amazing things I was watching, hearing and learning; the testing on the feet, the references to the various parts of the foot anatomy, the technology that is available today, especially the cutting edge technology. By the end of the day, I felt like I had received a college level course in farrier science. But in the end, for me it was about how kind and gracious they were, both to me and to Rhett. And, kindness and grace were what I needed so much at that point.
As I watched, almost from afar, how the students interacted with Mark and with the horses, I could see that this was an amazing place. Mark created here a place where students could learn in a controlled environment this super challenging skillset and career, having a chance to see some amazingly difficult cases, like Rhett, and get the training that would equip them to handle those difficult cases. But, Mark didn't just create a farrier school; he created an environment of patience, grace, kindness and integrity. He created a place that felt somehow set apart from the rest of the world; a place that was safe for learning, safe for helping and safe for recuperating. He created a place where owners can take a deep breath and know their horses are being cared for to the best that the industry has available, where students can be patiently overseen, where it’s okay to do your best — even if it means making mistakes — and knowing that there is someone to come alongside and help you fix those mistakes and do better next time. Mark created this environment, but in truth I believe it comes out of the deepest part of who he is, such that he cannot help but bring forth those qualities in his every day life and as a part of every interaction that he has with the people he comes in contact with because it simply is who he is.
And, to top it off, when I happened to mention to Mark that my sister, Kris, and I have a horse rescue operation (Finally Home Horse Rescue, in Monroe, Wash.), and would he be willing to be our farrier for the 15 horses in our rescue, he was more than happy to help. Only a few days later he packed up the whole class and brought them out to our facility to give all the horses their much needed trims. They even took the time to go down the road to the pasture where four of our rescue horses are kept so they could be trimmed too — truly the meaning of a class field trip. All in all, it was just another example of Mark being willing to go out of his way to help those in need.
I know for myself that I am a better person for having met this amazing man, Mark Plumlee. He is an example to me for how to live my life, but I am also pleased to be able to call him my friend. I am blessed both to have met him and to have him be a part of my life. I know that my life is richer for having sent the email that late Friday afternoon, and personally my life has been blessed for having spent that Saturday with Mark and ever since.