There are more than 41 million Americans who make their living plying a trade. Although the United States government doesn’t calculate working farriers, estimates range from 25,000 to 32,000. The percentages indicate that farriery is a distinct super niche within the workforce. To paraphrase Shakespeare, though it is small, we know the industry holds fierce convictions about how hoof care should be performed.
Throughout its 20 years, the International Hoof-Care Summit is a testament to the strong opinions that farriers have. No doubt, more evidence will be presented when equine professionals from around the world gather in just a few short weeks in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the 21st mid-winter event.
The Summit strives to provide a tent, if you will, where farriers, veterinarians, vet techs, therapists and all who champion the horse are welcome to learn and share knowledge. The upcoming agenda, which you can review by flipping this issue, demonstrates this commitment to providing a platform for a diversity of hoof-care philosophies.
The good folks at Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School (PCHS) in Plymouth, Calif., shared a quote on social media that aligns perfectly with the outlook of both the Summit and American Farriers Journal. The Summit and AFJ welcome differing points of view and we encourage courteous debate. There will be points that are made that you’ll agree and disagree with — sometimes during the same lecture. Take what works for you and put it into your toolbox. Leave the rest.
“You don’t have to agree with everyone, but all successful farriers can listen to alternative points of view without harsh judgment…”
“You don’t have to agree with everyone,” writes the PCHS sage, “but all successful farriers can listen to alternative points of view without harsh judgment.”
A great example of this occurred a few years ago during the roundtables. Mike Wharton, CJF, of Wellington, Fla., and Jason Critton, CJF (TE) — and newly minted AWCF — of Sedalia, Colo., carried a disagreement over surfaces into the hallway after the session ended. While the pair of well-respected shoers were adamant about their stances, they kept the debate respectful and above board.
Summit founder Frank Lessiter approached Wharton and Critton, encouraging them to continue the conversation by giving them a gift card to a nearby restaurant to hash out their differences. They have been close friends ever since.
“We are so close in our thinking and shoeing that it’s not even funny,” Wharton recalls. “That’s probably why we bumped heads on some things. He was saying something a little differently, or I was taking it a little differently. When we go to shoe horses, we’re pretty much in the same mindset.”
As long as the welfare of the horse is the priority, you are welcome under the tent. There’s plenty of room.