Guest Blogger Chris Hadel shares his thoughts with FPD on the Granada, Nicaragua Farrier Training program .
One week into the Granada, Nicaragua Farrier Training program and we had a working forge by the third day. The Granada carriage drivers’ association has generously let us use their facility as our shoeing shop and cart and carriage drivers are coming in for assistance in learning how to better shoe their horses. After hands-on training, several have been given hand tools, generously donated by: Western States Farrier Association members, The Horseshoe Barn (in Sacramento, Ca.) and FPD (Farrier Product Distribution).
Some of the tools the trainees are receiving are new to them conceptually. There were several crease nail pullers in the items donated by FPD, and the farriers that used them (and a few who have already received them) had never seen one before, and were particularly delighted by the ingenuity and obvious utility of that particular tool.
Dr. Lenz made a small purchase possible at the steel supply in Managua and I was able to teach them how to make one. I will also show it to a local welder/metal fabricator so they can be available locally as a market item.
Any real farrier tool is rare and deeply appreciated. Farrier tools in this area, to my knowledge, are only available at one store in the capital city, which is about 45 minutes away by car. This open source farrier skills training program is primarily funded and directed by Dr. Shelley Lenz (Killdeer Veterinary Clinic, North Dakota). Dr. Lenz is very active in Equitarian Initiative and HSVMA-RAVS (Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association-Rural Area Veterinary Services) projects.
Most of the guys we are working with are Nicaraguan. Many of them live on an income just above subsistence level. Reduction in Central America crop productivity earlier in the year, due to drought, exacerbated economic issues in the region. It is raining more often now, and the animals are looking pretty good, but crop/coffee/ dairy/ beef production issues earlier in the year are still affecting a lot of folks financially (annual income). Feed costs for cart and carriage horses were high; having an effect on the drivers.
We have one trainee from El Salvador attending for the month of September, and another Salvadoran who will attend the last week of September. Both Salvadoran gentlemen attended farrier clinic days held in El Salvador in early July of this year.
Many people here (and in other places worldwide) rely on horses and other working animals to make a living for themselves and their families. Good (or bad) farriery has a real effect on these peoples’ daily livelihood. It is an incredibly rewarding experience to help others on this fundamental level; using and sharing, to the best of our ability, the skills and knowledge of our trade. This often includes making a tool you need because it is not available otherwise.
There are several organizations active in Central America (and other faraway places) which include hoof care as part of their projects. Farriers that have an interest in supporting hoof care in these international projects can do so with time or material. It is something that can be done on an individual level, or by adopting support of a particular project with a group of farrier friends, chapter or regional/national association. You can find more information about these projects through your farrier associations, veterinarians and, of course, the internet.
If the ideological or practical approach of a certain organization or project is not a fit for you, there are others you might be interested in being involved in. They come in all flavors.
A partial list of organizations which may be sources for more information regarding opportunities for farriers to help people and horses in developing areas include: RVETS, World Vets, Equitarian Initiative, HSVMA-RAVS, Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare.
~ Chris Hadel 2013-2015 WSFA Director AFA# 9907