“AS IRON SHARPENS iron, so one man sharpens another” is a Bible proverb that emphasizes how working together is mutually beneficial.
Such is the reasoning behind Sequim farrier Chris Niclas’ decision to start hosting a support group and workshop for farriers, barefoot trimmers, equine practitioners and veterinarians based on the teachings of the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization.
“I’ve dreamt of seeing the equine community come together to work and help each other out for years, so I’m excited to see it become a reality,” Niclas said.
“Hosting these clinics is a way I can give back to a community; by recognizing the tons of people who’ve helped me progress and be where I am today.”
Niclas has always striven to better his skills in ways such as attending numerous schools and clinics, including Mission Farrier School.
He is also an ELPO Certified Farrier & Barefoot Trimmer.
ELPO is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group dedicated to progressive research and education for equine health.
It’s a social network designed to be a place where horse owners, horse enthusiasts and equine professionals can go to get help, offer assistance to others, exchange ideas, and socialize about the health and soundness of their equine companions.
Niclas said many people from the organization have helped him through the years.
He’s filled with gratitude for the organization and thankfulness for the help and support it has provided.
“It all comes down to education,” Niclas said.
“We are all thirsty for knowledge. We want to continually better ourselves in order to better serve our horses and clients.”
Niclas said the culture of being a farrier has centuries of tradition but sharing information with others has not been one of its strong points.
The internet has brought in a new era of collaborating with others in the same line of work.
“The workshops are about gathering together to learn in a safe, non-judgmental environment so we can progress further than ever before.”
I heard about the workshops through my farrier, Preston Pherson.
While he’s been around the business and horses all his life, it was just a couple years ago that he decided to turn professional and started by attending Mission Farrier School.
Early on, he shared with me that Niclas had become a mentor for him.
“I’ll bet most of the farriers there were like me, happy to learn about new ways to communicate with each other and veterinarians, as well as clients, by using techniques pioneered by the ELPO,” Pherson said.
“We were serious about what we were learning, but still having fun.”
Gleaning the best from each other, learning from each other’s mistakes, tragedies and successes are what the workshops are about.
“It’s a support group for farriers,” Niclas said.
“And we get lots of support from those in the horse business.”
Niclas credits ELPO for donating literature and PowerPoint presentations, Olympic Game Farm for donating cadaver legs, and Sound Equine Veterinary Hospital for donating time and X-rays as “a tool for us all to learn and grow from.”
EasyCare hoof boots has donated products, along with Redhorse, Equicast and some equine drug companies.
Farrier Dave Hill has also provided ongoing help and support to the workshops.
“One of the ELPO’S mottos is ‘Helping people help horses’ and this is precisely what it looks like,” Pherson said.
“As a group we’re on the same page.”
I’ve seen firsthand how our local equine veterinarians, such as Sequim’s Dr. Erik Splawn and Dr. Claire Smith from Sound Equine Veterinary Clinic in Poulsbo, go out of their way to work with local farriers.
Smith examined Indy
It wasn’t too long ago that Smith came out to my house to examine why Indy was limping on his left front leg.
Pherson was right there as she did her visual and physical examination.
When she examined her X-rays not only did she patiently explain Indy’s issue, and ways to deal with it, to me, but she took another X-ray at a different angle (at no cost to me) to explain to Pherson how he could best trim Indy’s hoof on that leg.
Farriers around state
Farriers came from across the state to take part in the first two workshops.
In attendance at the February clinic were Pherson, William Geoffroy, Becky Anderson, Polly McAllister, Crystal Hart, Marla Karabinos, Dave Hill, Mark Winston, Chris Niclas, Joe Marceau, Pat Pare, Jeff Doane and Glade Rankin.
Additional farriers at the first workshop in December were Scott Curtis, Erica Giovannoni, Dan Dickson, Fred Holcomb, Wyatt Billings and Rocky Billings.
The next workshop will be held in Poulsbo.
Not public workshop
At this time it’s not open to the public, but I’m encouraging Niclas to host one for us horse owners.
For more information, email Niclas at chrisfarrier email@example.com.
To learn more about ELPO, go to http://www.lamenessprevention.org/.
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.
If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.