Last week, I had the opportunity to spend time with Northern Illinois farrier Alan Dryg. It was an interesting and informative day — one that you can read about in a 2014 issue of American Farriers Journal.

Alan is pushing himself and improving his skills. At 50, that may not be atypical of farriers. What may be different different is his focus is on shoe making. A few years ago, while pursuing his CJF, Dryg was bit by the forging bug. Although he could build a shoe prior, it has risen to a whole new level. His goal: Build 100% of the horseshoes he uses.

During the day, Dryg pointed out his pile of practice shoes resting outside his shop. "The guy with the most knowledge is the guy who has made the most mistakes," he added.

Regardless of the field, one of the biggest obstacles is the fear of making mistakes. Behaviorists point to the need to be a perfectionist as a main contributor to this fear. That need to be perfect limits someone from new experiences because they are unfamiliar.

A farrier, for example, may never try to build anything more complex than a plain stamped shoe because he/she never has. It is unlikely that farrier would be a prodigy and build a perfect shoe on a first attempt at that type. Making a mistake at the anvil may restrain them.

That fear not only cripples the farrier in progress, but hinders the clients and their horses. That knowledge and skill gained in that experience may have helped the clients' horses. But not wanting to make a mistake placed a ceiling firmly above that farrier's head. It isn't just about shoe building — there are many more ways to push yourself in the hoof-care industry.

There is an old story in which a reporter asked Thomas Edison how it felt to fail 700 times in his pursuit of making a light bulb. "I have not failed seven hundred times," responded Edison. "I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."

Mistakes are part of the learning process. You should never hesitate to make them, and more importantly, learn from them.