“I have made my career by setting unrealistic expectations for my students, and then fully expecting them to accomplish them.” Chris Gregory
Getting ready to learn farriery can be a daunting task. Your mind wonders: What will the school be like? How will I get along with fellow students? What will they be like? Will it be hard? Will the instructors be nice? What can I do now to make my time there easier and more productive? Finally – Oh my, is it really time for school to start?
All of these are questions that many Heartland grads have expressed. Of course, most of them can’t really be answered before you get here, and some will change drastically from year to year. But, I can give you some perspective based on what I have seen over the last three decades. Bear in mind, this is pertaining to Heartland Horseshoeing School. I can’t speak for other horseshoeing schools, so your experience may not be anything like what I am about to explain if you are not one of the few that get to come here. I will answer the question about making the journey easier and more productive in a future blog.
School will be intense. Intensely hard, intensely challenging, and intensely fun. People love to learn, and when it is something that is so physically and mentally demanding, the successes you experience are celebrations of human achievement. It is very hard to describe, but being in the Heartland is a lot like a military boot camp. At least as boot camp was in the 1980s. There is a group of like minded folks with common goals that are put in tough situations which cause them to learn, change, and triumph leading to a new skill. What is amazing about this process is that it seems undoable in the beginning, seems like time stands still and passes at fast-forward at the same time, and you end up missing it when it is over. There are memories made every day that sound like the lies of old men, but you will be there to see it happen.
Every school has a personality that is initiated by the instructors and then filled in by the individuals that are in the class. It is a fun psychological experience to watch as each class comes in. One thing that seems to be a constant is that we attract people to the Heartland that are determined to be the best. They know they picked the hardest school and not everyone graduates. They know they will be constantly pushed out of their comfort zone, and they know that the ability to succeed here will make succeeding as a farrier much easier. Succeeding here really means you can succeed in anything you ever attempt. Learning that about yourself may be the most important thing this school can teach you.
But each class has its own persona. For instance, we may have a class that has some very competitive people in it, so they are in the forge for more hours than the average student, pushing to become the very best. This brings the whole class up. Or, we may have a class where there are several students want to rope the dummy every night and that turns into a past time that does not lead towards getting better at horseshoeing. Pretty soon we have some salty dummy ropers that are behind in the forge. Projects are being judged, they are signing counseling statements and there are discussions about putting down the rope and picking up a hammer. One constant though is that we get good people here. You will meet people that you will want to be friends with and stay in touch with. One of the biggest reasons Heartland Horseshoeing School has been so successful is due to the students that it draws.
The question about nice instructors is a loaded one. We are each individuals with individual ways of handling things. Much like your parents, you will learn which one to ask to go to a friends house and which one will let you eat the chocolate cake. I don’t think I can answer that question objectively, so I will only say that we truly have your best interests at heart, and we want nothing more than for you to be the best farrier that ever shod a horse. Our whole lives have been dedicated to making that happen. And, we will never ask anyone to do anything that we would not be willing to do. Does this make us nice? You tell me when its over.
Ultimately, you need to come to school with the idea that there is no one that can stop you from achieving your goals. Your time here is short and precious, and you need to wake up every morning with the idea that today you are going to do better than you did the day before. Celebrate each victory and learn from each defeat. You can do this. It won’t be easy, you won’t be clean, you won’t smell good, it will be too hot or too cold, you are going to sweat, bleed, cry and wonder why you decided to become a farrier. But you are also going to love it and become a part of something bigger than yourself. In the end, you will have a skill that will allow you to make a very good living just about anywhere you want to live. A skill that will allow you to be your own boss so that your efforts go towards improving your life and that of your loved ones. Come become one of the best.
I hope this gives you some things to think about as you start down the road to becoming a craftsman in this great trade of the farrier. The specific items of interest before horseshoeing school, such as how to study before coming, will be covered in future blogs. If you have a topic of interest, let me know about it and maybe it will make the blog in 2021. Be blessed.