Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Partisan Politics

Partisanship is alive and well up here in Alaska, and no, I don't mean the debacle of federal corruption trials we have been subjected to over the past few months....

Nope, I am talking about the politics of horses. I can't think of a more fractured, splintered group of people, really I can't. Factions and cliques, and loose associations and performance groups, religious gatherings, sport afficianados....if you can think of a sector or an aspect, you can rest assured that someone else (maybe a lot of someones) will consider their position, actions, words or ________(fill in the blank) as outright heresy or lies or accusations or, well, whatever they get in a snit about.

It's so stupidly small minded I am sometimes amused at the furor created by some of these fomenters. There does seem to be a lot of talking going on "behind scenes" and every such group has at least one member who is reviled and detested, feared or adulated or imitated. But nothing, of course, is ever said in public-it all has to be done on the quiet...because while we may be isolated in distance from each other, the rumor channels are light speed!

Let's take that oh-so-touchy topic: Farriers. Well we all need them (or most of us do) and nearly all of them have very full books and most are not taking new clients for any reason. Those that are popular and very busy have been elevated to near godhood status by their clients, regardless of the competency of the work performed over time. And no one ever EVER risks losing their farrier, no matter how lousy the trim or shoeing, how many times they have been stood up for a no show, how many times they don't get a call back, or how much they get charged for remedying issues their shoddy work started in the first place.

Most owners think of farriers as having very special knowledge that isn't attainable, let alone understandable unless you "go to school" to learn. Little do they know that the majority of accredited courses are mostly centered on steel working, not proper business ettiquette or even hoof function/form and abnormalities. Many farriers do continue with their ongoing education, but in general they are relatively hidebound and unwilling to change their "protocols".

Most are terrible gossips, especially about other farriers. And owners too. If you want something known, you just mention to one of them, and sure enough, it spreads faster than a virus in a school yard. Meanwhile, they are happily rasping away what remains of the hoof wall, working so fast the owner has no clue what has been done, or why. The busier they get, the worse their "service" to their clients-and their clients' horses too of course. Of course some of this has to be laid at the feet of owners who have no idea just how often a horse should be trimmed, and what to look for-but I won't go into detail on that. Too complex and too controversial even for here ;)

But I will say that a lot of horses are not well trimmed or shod here. People are so firmly into their farriers' camps that even *I* am cautious about what I say, and to whom, about the choices I have made for my own horses' soundness. And how bad is that? If people knew that they could learn these things (as I have) then the mastery and mystery of farrier care would be shown to be what it truly is...and it ain't rocket science!

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