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Many veteran farriers still recall the days when some of their colleagues kept what they’d learned about hoof care under lock and key. Stories are still told about a horseshoer packing up his tools and leaving a barn, rather than take a chance that a newcomer might learn any of his hoof-care secrets.
Now most farriers are much more willing to share their knowledge. Hoof-care organizations and companies practically compete with one another to sponsor clinics, contests and other events. If that’s not enough, all kinds of information and opinions are just a mouse-click away on the Internet.
Access to all of this information is nice, but it also leads to another problem. The need for the hoof-care professional to separate the good information, techniques and products from the bad and choosing tested theories over poorly thought-out ideas.
This isn’t always easy. It requires a combination of exploring research regarding the subject, as well as doing some critical thinking.
Exploring the research can present its own set of problems.
“Farriers are eager to learn, but they run into the problem that, A. there’s not that much out there and B. they can’t get into the university libraries where most of that information is stored,” says Jeff Thomason, a hoof researcher and professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College.That lack of hard research, as well as access to what is available, means farriers have to turn to other methods of…