Some of the most interesting barn conversation I have ever had has come from farriers. I could write a whole series of blog posts on farriers I have known and the stories they have told but I wouldn’t want to be excluded from future stories, they’re too great! Both horses had to be shod yesterday so Farrier and I had a long time to talk. As horse professionals in the same community the experiences we have with different horses, owners, vets, barn owners and other members of the community parallel each other.
We were talking about toe clips and side clips and the effect of each on different shaped hooves and he recounted a telephone conversation he had with a young farrier that had called him to ask a few questions about shoeing. The young fellow had asked how he felt about toe clips, and the response was that he would have to see a picture of the hooves in question. The question was, of course, hypothetical so the young farrier asked “just on the average, everyday horse”. This is once again, an unanswerable question as the “everyday horse” varies widely depending on the individual’s clients and even among those clients the hooves will not be the same.
This is a question that mirrors one that I think about in the training process from time to time, especially when it comes to training horses that have come to a trainer with previous baggage or are horses non-traditional to the discipline in which they are being trained. Many strict classicists write that there is one way to correctly train. I am not disputing any of these techniques, they are all proven effective. It is presumed in most writings, I believe, that the horse has been started correctly and that it is of an “everyday type of horse” that the author is used to seeing. It would be difficult to write a book addressing every type of previous training issue or every approach for different breed types, but I contend that horses must be treated as individuals, and a classical approach should be the desired standard but allowances must be made for the individual.
Whether you are talking about hooves, horses or students a philosophy or program must have a sound and proven structure. But the professional must be able to see the client as an individual, with a history of its own, in order to determine if inherent or learned traits must be addressed in a manner that humanely directs them back to the classical structure. The goal is the same, the path must always be humane but the history, conformation, or psyche of the hoof, horse or client must be taken into consideration if a classical result is to be achieved.