Farriers are generally a friendly bunch.
Much gets written (and quite rightly so) about farrier-vet relations. Having open communcation and a mutual respect between vets and farriers can make a huge difference to the ongoing treatment and welfare of horses. If the vet and farrier are on the same page when it comes to the care of a partcular equine then the results are more likely to be positive.
But what about farrier – farrier relations?
Through clinics, competitions and get togethers, many farriers get to chat to, learn from and socialise with other farriers in their local area and from further afield too. The relationships and friendships that can develop are healthy and can benefit everybody.
But sometimes, farriers aren’t always as understanding as they could be towards their peers. Finding the right balance between getting along respectfully with other farriers who are in reality also operating businesses in competition can be a challenge at times for some.
A guy setting up a new farrier business or moving in from out of town can sometimes experience negativity from other established farriers in the area. It seems wherever you are, there’s always at least one other farrier who finds it necesary to knock another. It’s often easy to cast doubt in the minds of clients about the standard of work or service they might be getting from another farrier. But word usually gets back and ultimately, everybody gets dragged down and looks bad! When times are tough, this can unfortunately be more common.
I feel that farriers of all varieties deserve my respect. Admittedly, we’re all different – some excel at one part of the business and others are better at another. And personalities vary between farriers as they do in life. But I can never forget that all farriers experience similar challenges on a regular basis. Horses that pull us around, getting wet/sweaty/blown away by the weather, the shoe that sometimes just doesn’t want to fit the foot, the client who waits until we’re finished to say they can’t pay. Many of these things and more bring farriers together almost like an unspoken exclusive club. And of course, there’s also the satisfaction of doing a good job, making a horse more comfortable and the open road on a sunny day.
A farrier with 50 years experience has had a lifetime of these challenges and pleasure and a new farrier has lots of those to come.
When I meet another farrier, these are the things that I know we all experience and however different our personalities, in some ways, we’re kind of all the same.