Highlights from course 4 2015

Course 4 wrapped up at the end of November and was a successful collaboration between FAF and its two volunteers Johan Verhulpen, farrier from Belgium, and Ramanathan Balachandran, veterinarian and podiatry specialist from India. Bernard Duvernay, founder of the Flying Anvil, guides us through FAF-FID’s final course of the year as he shares his thoughts and experiences below.

The last course of 2015 was particularly interesting because after 2 days of working at the school, we went to Pushkar horse fair. Pushkar is a Holy Rajasthani city situated 11 km from Ajmer. The city was a hot spot during the hippie pilgrimages of the 70’s.

Every year, 10 days after the Holy Diwali festival, this small locality attracts the North Indian breeders from Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat states, for 2 weeks. Up to 11’000 camels and a large number of horses and cattle arrive there along with around 400’000 visitors! It was very important for us to be part of this meeting, to mark our presence and to show our work to the Marwari breeders. This exceptional livestock fair is considered the largest camel fair in the World. Course4-8

The students made live demonstration to an audience of local breeders and explanained about the way they were working on the feet, about their tools and about the anatomy.

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It was a fantastic showroom to present the quality of our education in FAF-FID. The students worked on many horses, explaining to the breeders our criteria for trimming as well as the most important apects of hoofcare to maintain the feet in good quality and to make the horse comfortable during its work. The well-organized demos explaining trimming and shoeing captivated al arge audience. It was also a good opportunity to attract young prospective students for next year’s courses.

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Back at the school in Dundlod we started the course again, and we worked to prepare them for the end of year exams. There is no doubt that cold shoeing is the most classic way for these farriers to work, the lack of equipment as well as the kind of shoes available on the market make this technique the easiest for everyday shoeing in India. Two students had more forging experience than the others, so Johan spent more time with them at the forge as they have showed a great interest in learning more. They improved very much and produced very nice fullered shoes towards the end.

As usual, we also went shoeing and trimming in stables in the neighbouring villages. We worked on a case of chronic laminitis and for the first time we applied wooden shoes made at the local carpenter shop. The result was very interesting and showed a new possibility to the students for helping in complicated situations. We shod and trimmed a great number of horses and the students showed a lot of interest in improving their skills.

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The course ended with the final exam on the theoretical topics: anatomy, conformations, handling of the horse, pathologies and special shoeing. The practical part was on conformation and gait analysis, trimming, tool handling, fitting of the shoes, nailing, clinching and finishing. Then followed a smaller forging test, one front stamp shoe for the novices and one front and hind creased shoe for the more experienced students.

We noticed some weaknesses in the anatomy for some of the students, however the performances in the practical work were excellent, confirming the huge progress most of the students made in the trimming and shoeing parts of the craft.

This year we awarded three students with a diploma of FAF-FID Qualified Farrier and two diploma of FAF-FID Qualified Indian Trimmer. We were very satisfied with the results and we hope to attract more students in 2016.

We want to thank all the volunteers who participated in this project, for their excellent work and their commitment. We are each time fascinated at FAF to see the fantastic friendship between volunteers and students arise. This human connection, in addition to the discovery of the Indian culture make the teaching experience at FAF-FID very unique.

The image FAF shows of the farriery profession can attract those who have yet to discover the beauty, greatness and endless possibilities of modern farriery.

Once again we would like to give our thanks to Werkman Horseshoes for sponsoring Johan Verhulpen during his mission at FAF-FID. We are so grateful and happy to receive their continuous support!

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