One of the luxuries we have at AFJ is the access to the wide variety of farriers throughout the world. This ranges from the thousands of farriers working with backyard horses that make up the majority of the industry to the handful of shoers handling elite equine athletes.
In a 24-hour span in Indiana, I was able to spend several hours with some farriers who are varied in their place in the industry and stages of their career: Ryan Clarke, owner and head instructor of the Indiana State Horseshoeing Academy; Steve Haltom, who shoes in the east central part of the state; and Dale Jackson, who is a farrier and owns Jackson Farrier Supply.
Beyond overall farriery, these three share a common trait: education is important to them. Obviously Clarke’s tie is easy to identify as the head instructor at his hoof-care school.
As for Haltom, he’s been a farrier for nearly a decade and is now apprenticing with a Standardbred farrier/trainer Neil Coleman. He is willing to do anything from mucking to jogging a trotter to get any insight on the horse and discipline. Not a one-way street, Haltom also shares his knowledge with Coleman.
A business owner and accomplished farrier, Jackson often answers customers’ questions regarding hoof care when they are perplexed by a hoof-care problem. He also has helped line a few novices with farrier apprenticeships.
Farriers like these four make my job easier. Unlike isolationists, they are open with education and are willing to talk hoof care all day long. They don’t think they have all the answers or that there is only one way of doing things.
There are differences among these approaches to education: length, style, setting and so on. It does showcase that education is valuable for any farrier at any stage. There are novices at Clarke's schools, Haltom has a few years under his belt and novices and veterans alike will visit Jackson Farrier Supply for help.
No one has all the answers and it is the farrier's responsibility to continue education throughout a career. No matter where you are in your career, if you reject the need for education you simply won't succeed and likely won't last.