LEARNING TO LEARN

I just returned from a great learning experience at the International Hoof Care Summit. The long plane ride home has given me time to reflect about what I had learned and how I thought things could have been better.
I have been shoeing horses for many years, so by this time in my career it is not all the big things which I take in, but it is a multitude of small things, how other farriers do things differently, approaching problems in a different way. Many of us spend our working days alone with horses – other people are around, but not other farriers. Once in a while we might run into another farrier but for me this is seldom, so the chance to interact with other farriers has been a blessing.
The International Hoof Care Summit is a well planned event which has been running now for many years. This year was the third time I have attended. I knew I wanted to go as the learning experience is there. Having the schedule of events sent early gave me a chance to scan the subjects to be covered and choose the classes I wanted to attend. The worst part is you can’t attend them all!
First you have to understand this event is for both farriers and veterinarians. One of the speakers was a very well respected British farrier Simon Curtis who is very high and respected the world over for his work. His presentation was over three days and covered a very interesting subject, but it was also invaded with massive amounts of scientific data – for this kid I hate scientific data. Just give me the end result and the things I need to know and I’m out the door – good to go. I have always been more comfortable when farriers like Danvers Child, Mike Wildenstein, Grant Moon or the such are talking because they don’t use all the scientific BS, they talk at the level us “common” farriers really understand. Great, but are we just standing in our still water pond with no moving water?
You know what – vets were there as well and I can imagine most of them were very interested in all the data, how facts were found and the research behind the subjects. I remember looking around a bit and there were also other farriers who were interested (I guessed) as they ask questions about the data and findings. Yes I was able to wade my way through it, and many times it was only later after I was thinking about the subject the light bulb finally went on in my head. When that happened I finally understood – I’ve learned something!
Afterward on the plane ride home I got to thinking. We as farriers work with vets. Yes they understand our “language” and most of the vets I work with we have no problems. But also the other thing I got to thinking about is: Should I as a farrier bend a bit and try to understand some of the language vets use more than we do – OF COURSE! We farriers are part of a team, owner, vet and farrier. If I as a farrier don’t try to understand some of the language vets use then I am failing on my part to understand the whole picture. Applying this to the Hoof Summit I just attended, would I change any of the presentation? At first I thought yes, they need to keep it simple for us farriers, but now my answer is no, I have learned and expanded my mind into more the realm of the vet. No, I do not or will never consider myself as knowledgeable as a vet, but should I block my learning and not try to understand more their side? By attending events such as this one I have really been in the learning process. I attend things that are a “little” above my level and force myself to understand. The best part is while at the Summit and attending one of these more technical seminars, many times I am sitting next to a farrier who might understand so I can lean over and ask a question and not feel stupid if I don’t understand. After the lecture I can either ask the speaker who I’ve found is very patient with us less knowledgeable ones or talk to a farrier who gets it and get a good explanation. This is the learning process. If we fail to enter realm which we don’t fully understand then we will never expand our minds and learning capabilities are not fully use. Right after the Summit I thought there were some changes I would make, but now – nope, I want to expand my mind.