It can be received as educational, motivational, constructive, destructive, deflating and insulting, just to name a few.
When a farrier finishes a foot, it’s being judged. The best farriers evaluate their own work, and more often than not, find flaws in each job.
“I’ve never shod a horse perfectly,” Steve Sermersheim recently told attendees at Centaur Forge’s fall clinic in Burlington, Wis. “Every time I do a shoeing job and I set the foot down, I think it’s great. Then, I look it over and say to myself, ‘Man, I wish I would have done this instead of that.’”
The judging starts to get tricky, though, when others offer their 2 cents. Acceptance of criticism often depends upon its delivery. Seminole, Fla., farrier Robbie Hunziker doesn’t mind constructive criticism. It’s when farriers tear down a fellow colleague that gnaws on him.
“On Facebook the other day, I saw this shoeing job that, let’s just say, left a lot to be desired,” recalls the owner of Hurricane Forge. “Another farrier leaves a comment on there that’s just bashing the guy. Farriers are insulting him. There are 100-something posts on this thing by the time I get to it.”
Now, don’t mistake Hunziker’s point. He’s not necessarily worried about hurt feelings. There’s a bigger picture to consider.
“We’ve got to stop fighting,” he says. “We shouldn’t be tearing down other farriers in public. It’s pretty crappy. It’s hurting our trade.”
“I’ve done a lot of clinics and there are some pretty heated discussions,” says the owner of Midwest Horseshoeing School in Divernon, Ill. “There’s so much bashing that goes on between farriers. People from the outside see this. It’s unprofessional and demeans our profession when we put each other down.”
Both Sermersheim and Hunziker believe there’s a better way.
“We all should learn from each other,” Hunziker says. “Instead of bashing someone on Facebook, we should be offering to help.”
Sermersheim remembers a time when help was hard to come by.
“When I started shoeing horses, I couldn’t get anyone to help me,” he recalls. “There was only one farrier who was willing to help me. I called him and asked, ‘Can you help me put Drill-Tek on horseshoes?’”
The farrier readily agreed and told Sermersheim to bring a torch, some shoes and Drill-Tek.
“I got there and he says, ‘Alright, how are we going to do this? Because, I don’t know either,’” he says. “We figured it out together.
“We have to help each other as farriers.”
Now, the question is, how will you react to the constructive criticism from Hunziker and Sermersheim?