Perspective is such an interesting thing. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this over my career. Here is a story I heard that really brings home how the evaluation of a situation can have incredibly different meanings to different people. While I haven’t been able to verify this story as true, that part doesn’t matter. I will tell you the way that I heard it from a dear friend of mine in Argentina, Pedro Pechar.
Many years ago, the head of Mustad wanted to expand the market to sell horsenails and shoes in the Arabian market. He sent two salesmen to different areas of the desert to look at the situation. When they returned he had meetings with each of them individually. The first reported that there were thousands of horses and horsemen, but no market because all the horses were barefoot. The salesman said, “I only saw one horse with shoes that were crudely made and nailed on with the worst of hand-forged nails. We won’t have a market with the Arabs.”
The second salesman had a similar visit. He said, “There are thousand of horses and I only saw one that had shoes on, and those were bad shoes and worse nails. The market is wide open with so many customers that need shoes and nails, so we will sell many shoes and nails to the Arabs.”
So here two people trained at finding a way to sell product saw the same thing with exactly opposite assessments. The reason this is so prevalent in my mind is because of the plight of farriers in many parts of the world. I have been so blessed in my career to have friends in the industry in many different places doing all sorts of horses in many different ways. I have had the chance to see these people in their everyday lives and do clinics on six continents. To say that being an American farrier is great is an understatement. However, perspective and the take on a situation can potentially lead to immense opportunity.
In Latin America, there are many farriers that are underpaid for their skill. A lot of horse owners view the farrier as a glorified groom. Necessary, but not necessarily that important or skilled. Being a farrier is a good job amongst horses, but not the fantastic job that it is in most of the US. Especially in some horse industries like the world of polo or racing.
With that said, I have found that universally the best farriers tend to live the best lives in each place. I have been in the homes of the top farriers in every part of the world, and there is no doubt that the cream certainly rises to the top.
I feel that a change of perspective from the farrier can lead to a wonderful change of reality for the farrier. Perhaps there is opportunity in changing the way that the farrier is perceived by becoming such a competent farrier that the work speaks for itself. I have to believe that becoming the top farrier in the area will lead to shoeing the top horses for the top peso, real, rand, kronor, pound, euro or dollar.
The view of the industry could lead a person to decide that spending time, effort and money to become a better farrier is a wasted endeavor because the horse owners are not going to appreciate it or pay for it. – OR – The view of the industry could lead a person to decide that there are hundreds of farriers at a low level of skill and with a little time, effort and expense, it would be possible to be the best farrier in the country doing the best horses for the best horse-owners. I think that second perspective will end up leading the whole industry out of the dark into the light.
The really cool thing is that I have seen this happen first hand in a few places and I am seeing it happening again for many of my friends in Latin America right now. The vehicle I have used to help this has been the Farriers International Testing System, (FITS) exam, and seeing what the farriers of Brazil, South Africa and Australia have done with their industry is unbelievable. With the goal of a FITS certification level to aim for, many farriers have found a way to become the best farrier they can possibly be. Their perspective changed, and this led to their lives changing for the better. Maybe it can happen for you too.