We’re a little more than a week past the United States’ version of Thanksgiving. Despite football and post Turkey retail, it remains a day to reflect on how fortunate we are while others of different circumstances are not. Farriers seldom need reminder that the holiday provides specifically about the trade.
The danger that comes from working with horses and the breakdown of the body delivered over years by the job often keeps this awareness at the forefront. Should it fade, there are constant reminders present in the industry. Every farrier knows of another who is injured on the job and can’t work. Then there are those who are beset with unrelated illness that suspends their ability to work or end it altogether. If you don’t work, you don’t earn money — it’s that simple.
The generosity of farriers is often found in these times of need. You see that on the local level when farrier communities come together to hold events that benefit another farrier in need. For example, a recent clinic at the Horseshoe Barn raised about $30,000 for a local farrier suffering from an aggressive cancer.
You see it on a national level, as well. The American/International Associations of Profession Farriers has its Farrier Assistance Program. This program organizes help from its members to cover the horse of another member who is unable to work. The American Farrier’s Association has its own Injured Farriers Fund. It should be noted that many companies within the hoof-care industry are generous supporters of both these programs.
Farriers are internalized, and practitioners associate locally or regionally. We seldom think of those who practice abroad in poorer countries. They are devoid of the training, services and equipment that U.S. farriers are blessed with. We should commend farrier Bernard Duvernay for his work with the Flying Anvil Foundation in bringing this training and access to farriers in Third World settings. Through the foundation, volunteers bring that expertise to places where needed, educating and improving the skills of farriers in need. This effort is critical because the horses often are working animals that the local communities depend on.
I should note that there are other farriers, veterinarians, associations and companies who do this, as well, in countries like Romania and throughout South America.
Sometimes thoughts of fortunate circumstances are put aside when dealing with a rambunctious horse or unappreciative client. But the ever-present reminders can quickly ground the practitioner. Above all, remain thankful to be part of an industry in which camaraderie trumps competiveness in the business — where help is easily found. It is rare trait of most industries these days.
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