I am at the end of another trip. As I sit here in the Bologna international airport, I cannot help but reflect on the blessing this life has been. I spent the last couple of days surrounded by farriers that were intent on becoming better at their craft. The sheer number of languages was incredible. Of course Italian and English, but I got to practice my Spanish a ton, heard Polish, Finnish, Dutch, Swiss, German, Portuguese, Czech, and even a little Hebrew for good measure. There were some I couldn’t identify as well, but fun to listen to. It is quite something to see how we all can come together to get the point across when it comes to shoeing, but you can also easily see how the Tower of Babel separated us into the many people groups we now have.
Doing farrier clinics has allowed me to see and do things that I never expected. Sometimes I am standing in an arena surrounded by people that I have never met and can’t understand, and there is a horse there, an anvil, a forge, the same smells as home; and a surreal feeling comes over me because we are all doing the same thing in a very different part of the world for a noble beast that we all love helping. It really is incredible.
This particular clinic was put together by Gianluigi Poggiali and Marzena Swolkien. They own a company in Italy called DePlano Italy and DePlano LLC that makes pads. They don’t just make pads, they make the highest quality leather pads that can be made. As their business has grown, they have innovated with wedge pads, synthetics, synthetic-leather hybrids, and are now making more things for farriers such as toolboxes, impression materials, etc. Their presence in the US market is growing every month and they work with Visby Products out of Wellington. Top farriers always choose quality over price or other things, so that has helped them create their dream. If you haven’t heard of them already, I am sure you will soon.
Gianluigi is a farrier from Italy that speaks Italian and Spanish. The Spanish is because he did so many great horses in Argentina. Marzena is from Poland and she speaks Polish, Italian, English and can get by in Spanish. They are an incredible couple that put together their first congress of this nature. Their hospitality was fantastic. The food and venue was just perfect for a farrier clinic, and I had a wonderful time. There were a ton of manufacturers and suppliers there as well. They are planning another one next year. The managers of the Riding Centre are Melanie Gruber and Stefano Gobbi. They are from the Champions Factory, and they did a superb job of making sure that everything worked. The horses stood stock still, the food was on time and delicious, the trash was emptied, there was coffee when needed, etc. All the little things that you really only notice when they aren't done well, or if you are the one doing them.
You can do a lot of travelling as a farrier, and I highly recommend you look at going to the DePlano Italy Farriers United Show next year if you want a reason to visit beautiful Italy in early summer. Maybe spend a week or so and take your wife for a vacation. Points and fun for you with your wife, as well as learning more about being a farrier.
On this trip I got to meet the Polish Mafia, led by Godfather Dariusz Liszka. We had a lot of fun together and did quite a bit of laughing, but I have to admit I don’t know that I always understood what was funny. Laughter is another thing that doesn’t have to be translated, but is still pretty contagious.
I got to work directly with Carlo Montagna. He is an Italian farrier with incredible skill. His finished product always looked like it was airbrushed or something. Carlo is a very well known Italian farrier, and being in the same arena with him was a real thrill for me. I also got to spend quite a bit of time with Florian Haefner, farrier, writer and editor from Germany. He is the owner of the European Farrier’s Journal. This is a magazine that is published in 7 different languages. He is fluent in several languages, and is even able to write articles in both German and English. That just amazes me. I have done a couple of articles for him, and it was really great to actually get a lot of one-on-one with him.
I feel truly blessed to be a part of the farrier community. If you have a passion for the horse and working with them, being outside, working with your hands, and being part of a community way bigger than yourself, then let me recommend farriery. Thanks Gianluigi and Marzena for having me, and I look forward to any time that I can see you all again.