If you have been reading these blogs, you are aware that we get some of the best farrier students in the world here in the Heartland. This new group that came in for the second session are no exception, so here as an introduction to one of our newest stars. Dr. Ramon Batalla.
Nicknames are pretty common here, and some people keep getting them thrown at them. Some stick, some don’t. So far Ramon Batalla has been known as Don Juan, Ramen Noodles and Beethoven. Ramen Noodles was from Kelly, and I called him Beethoven for the musical nail line he was using on feet for a while there. I think that musical nail line thing is fixed, but we will see what name ends up being his.
Ramon is an amazing man from Costa Rica. At 39, he is a bit older than the average student that we get here. Despite that, he is more fit than most so he doesn’t look even close to 39. I would have guessed him in the late 20s. Ramon is a veterinarian in Costa Rica that specializes in equine. He had to leave his wife behind in Costa Rica to be here, but making sacrifices for goals is nothing new to Ramon. Ramon is a man of faith and sees God moving in his life in many ways, and it is great for me to get to share in that. He was supposed to be here in the March class but he ended up having to have surgery, and that ended up leading to complications that could have killed him. It ended up being another challenge that has made a strong man even stronger.
He became a vet in 2004 and spent 3 years working in a polo club on the Costa Rican Pacific coast. He was selected for a coveted internship in Belgium where he spent a year honing his equine veterinarian skills and knowledge. When he came back to Costa Rica, he purchased the first digital radiograph equipment in Central America. The actual cost of something like that is hard for us to understand from an American standpoint. At that time, that sort of equipment would have been close to $100,000.00 US dollars. However, that sort of money in Costa Rica probably has a buying power of ten times that, which means that Ramon demonstrated his willingness to do whatever it takes at whatever cost to do his job to the utmost. I have to say, that from what I am seeing here in the last few weeks of knowing him, that is just how his personality works. Whatever it takes is what he does to learn what he wants to know to make horses lives better. I talked him out of some of his images for this blog, so you can see the quality of x-ray his machine allows him. If you have been at this long enough to remember the old x-rays, the digital ones are almost magical in quality.
So now Ramon found himself back home in Costa Rica with a lot of knowledge, top of the line equipment, and still having to deal with lameness that he couldn’t fix because he didn’t have farrier skills or skilled farriers. As he explained to me, he would often treat a horse with everything available to the vet, but still have the major problems with the feet that he could not treat or help. So even with all that technology and treatment from his end, the lack of good hoof care still left a lame horse. It was this frustration that made him decide to learn farriery.
Ramon took several courses with Dr. Ric Redden and was lucky enough to meet a friend of the Heartland named Dr. Sammy Pittman. As Ramon said, “I believe things in life happen for a purpose, and that God is behind that. A good friend farrier and veterinarian that I met because of a combination of decisions I made in my life recommended HHS and I feel, I know, it was not by chance.” Dr. Pittman knew that a person with Ramon’s drive and desire would be a good fit for the Heartland, so he made the recommendation and Ramon ended up here.
Kelly explains it by saying, “People that have to find us, find us.” I agree with that 100%
Like so many of us, we became farriers out of frustration and necessity. Ramon is in exactly the same spot. So now he is in one of the toughest challenges there is in learning farriery as he adds to his massive arsenal aimed at helping horses. His goals are to help more horses through his new skill set, as well as teach farriers back home, so that they can help more horses through that. I think Ramon is going to end up being a seed that turns into a forest and we are extremely proud to be a part of planting that seed.