Monday, June 13, 2011

When I Grow Up I'm Gonna Be a Farrier... or a Mechanic

     I was working on my truck the other day and someone asked me why I would do this when God had provided the world with mechanics for exactly this purpose, and I told them because when my business fails due to lack of metal shoes I'm going to be a mechanic and I needed the practice. They didn't get the joke, but it made me think about how far my business has come since I had that conversation, and how many times I've had it since.

     One day after I had only been trimming professionally for a few months (and had a small number of clients and a large number of rank horses), my truck had gone wonky in a McDonald's parking lot and I was under the hood trying to add transmission fluid or adjust something, and another farrier came over to say hi and yack for a bit.

     We talked for awhile, and he was quite surprised that I was a farrier with no intentions of nailing on metal shoes, and crazier still I was not specializing in a "performance" shoeing style, but I blatantly refused to do any "performance" work at all. I explained most "performance" work was hideously bad for the horses health, shoeing babies small, cutting toes short, putting on ungodly wicked things to change gait, not to mention the ugliness they do to TWH's. I told him I got into this because I am my boss and I can choose what I will, and will not do. And that this doesn't include metal and unhealthy shoeing. He agreed with me on all this, agreed most horses would do much better barefoot, and obviously sacrificing the horse itself for the movement wasn't in the horses best interest.

     But he said, you'll never feed yourself doing trims. You have to shoe. There aren't enough barefoot clients to make a living, you make your money on shoes. Sure shoes have drawbacks, but if a farrier can't make a living he'll quit, the horse will go without hoof care, and so actually shoes are the morally correct way to go for the horse. I maybe could survive on trail horse shoeing, but I wouldn't be in good business unless I was willing to "adjust" hooves on performance horses. He hated to break it to me, being young and idealistic, but I'd never be able to make it without bending my morality.

     I thought about it a minute, glanced over at my gimping truck, and said, "Oh well, I'll just have to be a mechanic."

     He stared at me for a minute, "A mechanic? Like on cars?"


     "Like a grease monkey mechanic?"


     "Why on earth would you do that?"

     "Don't care where the metal goes on them. If I have to start compromising the horse's health to make my living, that's fine, I'll just work on trucks. It's fascinating you know."

     He looked at me like I was completely mad, which I am, and gave me his best wishes toward success. I'm sure he got quite a chuckle out of my craziness, probably told everybody about that silly green girl that thought she could make a living actually only doing what was good for horses. Probably one those tree-hugging fairy people. He was perfectly nice, but he thought I was an idiot.

     At the time I had never given two thoughts toward being a mechanic, but it's my simple answer whenever people get into this debate with me. Most are owners and trainers, not farriers, who tell me I simply can't do it. They tell me how if they weren't willing to "bend" the rules of the horses well being they'd never get anything done. They'd never advance in training, they'd never have clients, they'd never win a ribbon, and certainly because they'd never make any money. They *have* to you see, there's not a choice. And me going about not *having* to is just plain wrong, someone might start feeling bad. 

     Contrary to the lot of them, I'm doing just fine, and have been for 4 years. Business is great, business grows constantly. I don't believe I've been prouder then when one of my clients introduced me to a friend saying, "She's a little crazy tree-hugger of a gal, but she's the only one who can keep my horse sound, so I recommend her highly." 

     It's for the best really because I'm an inept mechanic, I can only fix things on '85 Fords.