By Carole Herder
Catching my attention in the dim lit auditorium at Equine Affair in Massachusetts was a tall, slim man with a cap pulled low over his eyes. He stood quietly at the side of the stage while I made my presentation. He didn’t join the rest of the audience in the chairs, but rather stood near the door leaning against the cold brick wall. He looked like a farrier to me and because he wasn’t willing to join the crowd, I expected he might speak out at any time to raise a conflict. I was certain he raised his hand slightly, as I presented the part about how much change the world has seen and yet the age old tradition of nailing metal into horse’s hoof is being held staunch by a very conventional establishment.
For some comic relief to an otherwise serious topic, I showed slides comparing old and new, like the old black and white TVs and dial telephones etc. Reeling though the slides, the audience laughing, I noticed that he too had a pleasant grin plastered across his face. I thought briefly that I may have pegged him wrong. But while showing the slide of the traditional farrier with the metal forge compared to the lithe woman who had to learn to trim because she knew that nailing metal shoes was just wrong; this man turned and left the room. A bit confused, I went back to my farrier label and figured some people just want to stay with the things they know. At least he didn’t challenge me and try to turn my presentation into some kind of argument.
Moving along, I finished up to a round of applause, quickly gathering my stuff to make room for the next speaker and move outside where several people were waiting to talk. To my surprise the first in line was the odd man. Oh darn! What a surprise when he explained that yes, he was indeed a farrier and had been for 15 years; went into it for his love of horses and because he thought he could help; thought it was the right thing to do. It had always been done that way. What he really found in his field was hoof, leg and lameness problems. He discovered that his own practice was causing a lack of blood circulation to the hoof. He discovered that metal transmits enough shock back up the structure of the horse’s limbs to cause damage. What he really discovered was that he was contributing to the problems horses were having and actually not helping horses as he’d set out to do. So he swore he’d never nail a metal shoe on again. He told me he enjoyed the presentation, thanked me for my talk and said he loved Cavallo . Then he turned to leave. I tried to get him back, because I wanted to carry on our conversation at another time, but he was swallowed up by the crowd.
What it highlighted for me is that most of us really want to do the right thing. Sometimes we just need to let go of old belief systems in order to create the change we know is true. Farriers usually get involved because they want to help. It’s just time to learn some new ways of doing things.