One of the benefits of having a little gray hair on your head is that it gives you the perspective of hind sight. One of the things I regret is not networking earlier in my career with the older seasoned farriers whom I regarded as unapproachable. After all, I was a young rookie farrier and why would they want to talk to me? It took me some time to get up the courage to ask them for advice. What a pleasant surprise it was to find out that they actually welcomed my interest and were more than willing to help me learn the finer points of farriery.

My advice for people entering the profession or those who are established is to not make the same mistake I did. I am proud that our profession is one that advocates helping each other learn the business.

The best way to learn the most is to start by doing a ride along. The rules are quite simple. First, approach your idol when he or she is not busy with your request. Be polite and brief. On the day of the ride along, show up early, wear clean appropriate clothes, have your shoes tied and be presentable. Ask all the questions you want on the way to the barn, but when the work begins, fade into the background until you see how things are done. When you are introduced to the client, acknowledge your gratitude to be allowed on the property to observe and then shut your mouth. Do not make any comments about the horses or the shoeing.

Once the work starts, make yourself useful. A good way is to man the broom and keep the working area clean. Save your questions for the end of the day unless the mentor points out something of interest that he or she wants to show you. At the end of the day show your appreciation for the opportunity. If you have made a good impression, you will likely be invited back and you can start your rise to the next level in the profession.

The farrier profession is not for the faint of heart. To be successful you must show confidence in yourself, with the client, the horse and all the other industry professionals. So you rookies, cowboy up, get connected with the people who are experienced and don't be shy like I was.