I try to read as many online articles in newspapers written about farriers as possible. Some of these are news worthy, but I find most newspaper stories about individual farriers provide an introductory glimpse at the industry. This makes sense, as most people don't own or spend time around horses. So those who work with horses are foreign to them as well.
I came across one such article around Christmas in the American Press. It is nice to see farriers talk about what they do — in this case, Louisiana shoer Shane Marcantel. The article does a fair job, although there are a few misunderstandings that the author has about farriery.
This story is part of a series in this publication titled "Vanishing Jobs." The author's contention: Horses (for the most part) are no longer needed for work, so the farrier is "vanishing." Some 30,000 farriers in the US and Canada alone may dispute this, but I chalk up the notion that an industry is disappearing to a failure to understand that because something is not prominent, doesn't then mean it is archaic and unnecessary. Think about it in the sense of other industries that aren't rare. People get what attorneys and plumbers do because we've needed a will drawn or drain unclogged.
As a side note, there are other reasons that lead to fewer farriers, from lack of horsemanship among both owners and potential farriers to urbanization.
Also in this article, Marcantel says the perception that farriers are disappearing occurs when a tough economy leads to fewer horse owners — and certainly others that will maintain a horse on a proper hoof care schedule and promptly pay a farrier for his/her services.
Marcantel is correct, but the article failed to connect the dots. Yes, tough times mean fewer horses, then inevitably fewer farriers. Regardless of economics, if ignoring or lengthening a hoof-care schedule ever became the norm rather than the exception, then horses will become even rarer. Maybe then, people will realize how critical proper hoof care is. And perhaps those who ignore hoof care will begin to own the consequences of their actions instead of assuming the farrier is to blame.
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