Only a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of working in the field with a good friend and respected colleague of mine, Michael Wharton. Together we collaborated on a dressage horse that neither of us had ever worked on previously. We decided to try him for the first time in the EasyShoe Flex (size 4, heart bar with side clips, to be exact).
On this particular day, as Mike and I worked side by side to help this horse, I realized that all along he has helped remind me of the true meaning of our profession.
Rewind to years ago when Mike and I first met. I was sporting a hat printed with my business name, No Anvil LLC. Already a highly accomplished horseshoer and naturally proud of his profession, Mike wanted to know exactly who I thought I was to be wearing such an offensive piece of apparel. No anvil? I’d better be prepared to offer a good explanation. So I did, and to my surprise, Mike listened with an open mind. His top priority was not in proving anyone right or wrong, but rather to do the best he could by the horses he shod.
Since then, Mike has continued to be regarded as one of the most respected sport-horse farriers in our industry, as well as a true professional in glue-on shoeing.
Regardless of the fact that both Mike and I have been under horses for longer than most farriers today have been alive, we make a conscious effort to consistently collaborate and learn from one another. Most recently, I introduced him to the benefits of utilizing the Easyshoe Flex in the dressage industry. While I showed him how to get an ideal fit, he supervised me to make sure I didn’t drive any weeny nails in the process. We voiced our opinions from a place of trust and mutual respect, and the end result was a happy horse.
At the end of the day, what we have come to know for sure is that when we assume the role of a farrier, we become an integral part of something much larger than ourselves.
We make the choice, consciously or unconsciously, to create a life of service to the health of the horse.
With that choice, we also take on the responsibility to develop ourselves and to continually lean into new knowledge so that we can better serve the horses in our care. Why? Ultimately, this profession is more important than ego. This title is more than the accolades and recognition we receive for our efforts, and far more than the revenue we earn from the businesses we build surrounding it. It is more important than our self-image, reputation, or status. In fact, time has taught us that it has little to do with any of those things.
Instead, what we know for sure is that being a successful horseshoer has everything to do with what you don’t know. If you don’t know how to apply a particular shoe or how to handle a particular case, what makes you a true farrier is not in having the right answer, but in being open-minded enough to listen to and act on what the horse needs.
If serving the horse with the very best you have to offer becomes your ultimate goal, you’ll soon realize that everything else is just top dressing.
So my challenge to you this month is to learn something new through collaboration. Trust me. Your horses and your clients will thank you for it.