I have been teaching for a very long time. There are some graduates that surprise you, some that make you proud, and some that you would rather not claim. When you see a job that is not as good as it could be from a graduate, you feel bad that you weren’t able to instill such a love of the trade and sense of pride in that individual. If they have a diploma, you know that on one day at one time they were able to make the standard. You cannot control them when they leave, so you hope for the best. The ones I am talking about usually don’t survive the trade for too long, and many of them are not made for being self-employed.
This blog is about the exact opposite. Those graduates that have the extra whatever “it” is that makes them stand above and beyond the rest. To be honest, we all want to claim these ones, even though we may not deserve the credit for their actions any more than we deserve the blame for the bad ones.
It seems to me that those special folks would have been successful no matter what they had decided to do, and we were just lucky enough that they picked our school to call their alma mater. The man that I am covering in this blog is Mark Hickcox, and in fact, he had already enjoyed an incredibly successful career in medical joint replacement supplies prior to attending Heartland Horseshoeing School.
Mark was coming home from a golf trip in Scotland in May of 2011 when he found out that there was a tremendous tornado hitting his hometown of Joplin, which is where his wife, Christian, and daughter Eve were hunkering down. The tornado took their home as well as the lives of many of their friends and neighbors.
I can only imagine as a husband and father what that must have been like. Well, it was enough that the family decided that a move out of Tornado Alley was needed, and Mark needed a change of career anyway. This led to his deciding to become a farrier. He signed up for school and attended the Farrier Blacksmith Course in February of 2015 with the intention of going through the Journeyman Farrier Course. Well, his old industry just didn’t want to let him go and he was offered enough money that he decided to wait one more year. Yep, he already knew how to charge them until you like it. 2016 found him in the Farrier Blacksmith Course again, and this time he did go on with the Journeyman Farrier Course.
Mark sailed through the theory and forge side of the course, and every day the horse side of things kept getting better. By the time the summer was over, he had passed the whole course with flying colors and become a farrier that anyone would be proud to have shoeing their horses.
However, this is a fairly common story. Those that are willing to work and focus usually end up meeting their goals. However, Mark possesses some extra patience and business skills that make me very happy to have him as a graduate.
He and his family moved to Red Lodge, Montana, and opened Red Lodge Farrier Service. Like any new business owner, there are a few things that come up in the course of providing a service. Well, Mark was gracious enough to share a recent success with me. I asked his permission to share it with you, so here is the email that I received.
I read your FITS blog post and decided to share this success story with you.
Christian scheduled a client (vet referral) last Monday for a lame horse that needs protection on the fronts. I talked to the vet the week before and she gave me the lameness exam details and her recommendation for a pair of front shoes.
We show up Monday afternoon to a beautiful little ranch, about 25 minutes from my house. They’ve got a nice house, nice barn, and 8 horses in the corral. The wife meets us and asks the ranch hand to get the horse, I get set up, start trimming when the husband comes up and tells Christian that another local farrier does their horses. Christian tells him that the vet called us but if he would prefer the other farrier we could leave. The wife tells her husband that it’s her horse and the vet recommends us so Mark is doing it.
Anyway, I talked my way through the trim and pair of shoes with the wife, while hearing a couple of “that’s not what the other guy does” from the husband and ranch hand. They thanked us, we scheduled a follow up appointment and left. Attached is my letter to the vet.
The ranch hand must have immediately called the other farrier because the next night we get a call from the husband. The other guy called and asked them to pick one farrier… they picked us! We now have all 8 head on the books. Also, my follow up letter to the vet reminded her to schedule her own 2 horses again with me.
Like the farrier in your story that didn’t care for his job, my competitors aren’t happy to help horses and people (including DVMs!), it shows!!
Thank you (once again) Chris for influencing me and thousands of others in our industry!
J. Mark Hickcox
Tierney Olsen DVM
Stillwater Veterinary Clinic
PO Box 575
Absarokee, MT 59001
June 12, 2017
Dr. Tierney –
Thank you for the referral of Jay-Bob (Dennis and Nancy Stevens). I saw him this afternoon and shod his front feet and trimmed his hinds.
Jay-Bob was shod with size 0 Delta TS8 shoes and eight city-head 5 nails in each shoe. These are wide-webbed ¾ fullered shoes and hot fit to his appropriate hoof shape. My hoof prep was minimal. As we spoke about on the phone, I leveled the ground surface of the hoof but only nipped through the toe to preserve the heel height. I was able to set the shoe back from the undressed toe and safely nail in the white line while fully covering the heels. After setting the shoe I dressed the dorsal hoof wall to remove the flare in toe. The shoe was then nailed and clinched in my normal fashion.
I was somewhat surprised that Jay-Bob seemed completely comfortable as I worked on both front feet. For a lame horse he was very stoic.
Both hinds were trimmed conservatively to leave some sole protection but remove flare.
He was walked after I finished and he appeared sound in the corral. Dennis was planning to saddle and ride Jay-Bob when we left.
Thank you again for the referral and if you have any questions please call me. My next appointment with Jay-Bob is July 25.
Mark Hickcox, CF