They were once called blacksmiths, but as the years transgressed their profession became more and more prominent. Known as blacksmiths to now being Farriers; they now uniquely specialize in equine hoof care. A farrier is an ancient craftsman who trims and balances the horses’ hooves, and places the shoes on their hooves. A farrier combines the skills of a blacksmith, which is fabricating, adapting and adjusting metal shoes, along with some veterinarian’s skills, which gives them knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the lower limb – essential to care for the horses’ feet. The jobs of the farrier and the blacksmith were synonymous because a blacksmith was commonly thought as someone who made and repaired all the items necessary for farming and daily living such as plows, axes, shovels, and any hardware necessary for wagons, homes and barns. Hence they were also in charge of caring for the horses’ shoes. The word farrier comes from Middle French “ferrier” meaning “blacksmith”. Looking further into the etymology of the word, Farrier derived from the Latin word “Ferrum” meaning “iron, or sword”. For this reason, in some parts of the world farriers and blacksmiths are inextricably linked.
This profession has been around for a very long time. Some people say that it began when the horse was first domesticated. Others say it began around the time of the Roman Empire. There is no actual trace as to when it exactly was created. One thing that is known for sure is that this profession was and still is indispensable. It has become a unique form of art. Although many people don’t even think about this as a profession, or as something that someone can come to love and have passion for, this story tells otherwise. It shows that there’s always something out there for you. Something that unexpectedly can become your life. A story that comes to show that not everything goes as planned, but perhaps it’s for the better.
Alfonso attests to this. He never imagined he would become a farrier. His dreams were set since he was a little boy. He knew that we would grow up to become a soccer player. Alfonso is from Ranchita, a small village in Mexico between Vera Cruz and the Pacific Ocean. In a country that is run by soccer, his passion for soccer grew more and more each day. Not only did he love this sport, but it was clear to him and to his family that he showed a lot of potential. Alfonso’s dream didn’t stay in Mexico when his family decided to immigrate to the United States. On the contrary, he strived more each day to prove to himself that he would reach his goal in becoming a soccer player. Now 17 and living in Arizona, his dream was closer more than ever. He was offered a scholarship to play soccer. He couldn’t contain his excitement in having such a great opportunity, which would lead him to his end goal – becoming a soccer player. But life has a funny way of showing that not everything goes as planned, even when it’s at hands reach. And just like that, his dream was snatched away.
His coach that had seen him grow into one of the best, suddenly left along with his scholarship. With hopes that the new coach would still offer him the opportunity, he kept on training every day and put his heart on the field. Sadly, the new coach did not give him the scholarship. While his worst nightmare came to life, his uncle living in Los Angeles, California was living another one, he was getting a divorce. Due to this, Alfonso’s uncle decided to pack his bags and drive across the country to Florida. On his way, he stopped in Arizona to see his nephew. Knowing that Alfonso’s plan hit a dead end, he proposed that he joined him in his adventure to Florida.
His uncle taught him how to remove the horses’ shoes. In just like everything else he did, he put his all in what he was doing. Alfonso became skilled at the process of carving and trimming the hoof. He also learned to hammer and anvil to bed the shoe into the precise shape needed for that specific horse. His purpose of coming to Florida was to distract himself and to heal from the heartbreaking truth that his soccer days were over; he told himself he would only be there for three months. But without knowing it, this became his passion. Alfonso mastered all the tactics of being a farrier. It has now been 10 years.
His work is tough; working long hours every day, but it’s what he loves to do. In his pickup truck, he has all of the tools needed. Inside the tin cart, you can find the anvil; the hammer; the hoof knife; the nippers and the clinch hook. His work environment is not ideal. There’s the scorching heat and the humidity. There the mosquitoes flying all around him and the smell. But that doesn’t stop him. He knows firsthand that if you ever want to be one of the best at something, you must go against all odds and never quit. His life took an unexpected turn. One that cost him his dream, but along the way he found another one.