News Letter: from the « Battle Field » May 2017

A whole year has gone by since the last Newsletter, our apologies at FAF!
We have been too busy with issues of daily management, and dealing with FAF’s new involvements (see below) and with no back-up staff, it has proved a little difficult to keep you updated as well.

Farriery training institute in India- FAFFID :
In the past year, full 6 courses have been organized, and 6 volunteers have taught in Dundlod – each of them giving their time and communicating their passion for farriery to the trainees. In the last year, we have made some major changes to the teaching programme : there is a new backbone to the course and new support documents. Earlier this year, volunteer farrier Mark Caldwell (UK) introduced a novel & very lively approach to his anatomy teaching & the trainees benefited hugely from his expertise. He managed to captivate them with his questioning and calling on their intuition and observations, very participative – all this was so much more meaningful than the traditional book-based teaching.
This way of teaching anatomy provides very useful grounding for farriers because it brings to life the very structure and function of every component of the horse’s anatomy in a way that they will remember.
The following volunteer in 2017, Miguel Paricio, is both farrier and vet. His Spanish temperament, demonstrated in his passion for the forge and his work on the horse, motivated the trainees. In addition to Miguel, we were successful in recruiting a couple of Indian vets to assure efficient translation – in replacement of our former teacher and assistant Sahib Parminder Singh, who has now left us to return to his native Punjab. These vets stressed how much they learned from the programme so far, in ways that are not at all covered in their own vet schools, in particular in equine anatomy and physiology.
These innovations to the teaching programme are welcomed, and the Institute’s unique reputation as the only farriery school in Asia is strengthening. Our latest batch of students come from very different domains of equine activity, and from all over the country, ranging from Tamil Nadu to Kerala, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.
The school is now running to its full capacity, and future plans include possibly opening up a branch in the South or Central India for students from anywhere south of Madhya Pradesh.


 Summary of FAF’s objectives in India for 2017-2018:

– Helping get the IFF (Indian Farriery Foundation) going. Its registration has taken over 18 months, and we had grossly underestimated the time it would take on the part of the Indian Federal administrative authorities …. But now we are hoping to move on, in the next few weeks and months.
– Appointing a local General Manager for Dundlod site. In addition to the daily running of the school (running the courses, building maintenance, handling the staff) the new GM will also be in charge of student registration and course planning ; he/she will need to conceptualize the promotion of IFF’s activities all over India, dealing with communication and fund-raising under the supervision of the IFF Board. FAF has emphasized that workshops for CPD (continuing professional development) also need to be created for recently trained farriers.
Other recent activities:
February 2017, I was invited to run a work-shop at Mayo College (Ajmer, Rajasthan), the Indian Eton, the academy of India’s aristocracy – these are the families who hand down equestrian traditions from one generation to the next. At the school, these young riders train in all the major equestrian domains of jumping, dressage, « tent pegging » and polo. My modest goal was to capture the short attention spans of these young riders as to the importance of quality trimming and shoeing and to correction of lameness using modern farriery techniques.

Thank you to all the companies faithfully supporting  our work and our volunteers teachers:   Glue U, Werkman, Kerckhaert, Epona shoe, Info maréchalerie

In the last year, FAFFID has organized :
15-27 Feb 2016 Course 1-2016 volunteer : Fabio Tascone, Italy
19-21 Feb 2016 Dr. Alain Kuffer (Equine vet in Geneva) visit to school.
28 March- 9 April 2016 Course 2-2016, volunteer: Daniel van der Blij Sweden
10-13 April 2016 Bernard Duvernay working at thorough-bred stud, Amballa au Penjab .
03-15 Oct. 2016 Course 4-2016 volunteer : Mark Aitkens, UK
29 Oct.-7 Nov.2016 Sri Lanka workshop for farriers at Nuwara Ellya racecourse
28 Nov-10 December 2016 course 4-2016 volunteer : Russell Deering, UK
6-18 Feb. 2017 course 1-2017 volunteer : Mark Caldwell, UK
27 March-13 April 2017 course 2-2017 volunteer : Miguel Paricio, Spain


FAF activities :
– 19-21 May 2016 : FAF stand at « Segovia Equine Podiatry Congress »
– 11-12 June 2016 : « Forge en Fête » at Troinex Genève. This is an annual event organized jointly by FAF and Jangala – promoting Indian textile and blockpinting which supports FAF through its sales.
– 18-22th July 2016: FAF was mandated by the FEI (International Equine Federation) to organize a workshop for farriers who work with sport horses in the capital of Madagascar, Tananarive:
I faced a difficult task in this course, organized by local FEI representatives. The planned 4-day course had grossly underestimated the basic educational needs of these largely untrained farriers.
For FAF, this contract would have needed a long-term vision and provision of initial training, since the farriers lacked even the most basic know-how. My appreciation was communicated back to FEI at the end of the week’s course. FEI headquarters response was clear and definitive : it will not provide basic education, and there is no alternative at present but to finance short workshops.

July-August 2016 : Lesotho Project 1st course

FAF had been contacted by Lekena, a farmer-farrier in Lesotho, Qasha Sneck, Mabachu region, to organize a farriery course in Lesotho, an small mountain kingdom enclaved within South Africa.

Locals mostly work as farmers in agricultural production, this is a place with more working horses than vehicles! Moreover, most of the villages are only reachable on horseback. Definitely a context with plenty of work for the farrier! The locals use working donkeys for the transport of merchandise. There would seem to be a big potential for development, though farriers are undertrained and lack decent tools and equipment.
– 15 trainees were recruited for the 1st course; it was mid-winter, and we were hindered by cold conditions and snow. The trainees were an uneven lot : some were not at all motivated, others had very little knowledge and experience ; they had probably come for the free meals ! Quite a number of local horses were shod, and provided opportunities for me to pick out the promising students and encourage them to continue our course.
– A very warm welcome was given to me by the locals, they did all they could to preparing meals and accommodation, and got use of the schoolhouse for theory classes….

February March 2017 : Lesotho Project 2nd course

– We went back to Lesotho better prepared for the 2nd CPD course. This time, FAF sent 2 farriers as teachers, myself and Russell Deering.. Dr Y. Beyeler, FAF Board member,


rider and retired GP, was also part of the group. Yves was keen to discover Lesotho and see FAF’s work at first-hand. He also made some school visits and decided to provide modest scholarships for a few high school students.
– Russell, the second farrier, is a natural teacher, his 6 selected trainees responded really well to his enthusiastic hands-on approach to theory and farriery practice.
– With Russell, we visited several local villages and market towns for some demonstrations. Our goal was to show the trainees how best to work collaboratively and how to organize their future farriery business locally.
– A major challenge to be born in mind for future FAF efficacy, is the fact that the very notion of a business model, with the basics of accountancy, is totally unknown to these African farriers. It will take time for this to evolve, for trainees to understand how to reach a level of economic independence.
– FAF needs to remain vigilant and realistic as to the amount of support needed beyond the strict farriery aspects. A limit needs to be set as to its investment in time and money on matters of trainees’ own economic survival!

– FAF wishes to thank the Barbour Foundation and Royal Kerkhaert for their support of the above project, which will continue for the next 4 years.


Last but not the least, my thanks go to Mary Overton, FAF VP, who has spent hours – with little or no recognition – on translation,legal work and other important tasks, such as offering her moral support to the President in the moments of discouragement and deep frustration with the legendary Indian slowness and inefficiency!

So goes the life of our Foundation: from the highs of the encouraging moments when trainees complete their courses and become successfully independent, to the low times when the Indian authorities just seem to place once obstacle after another in our path!

thanks to all of you who from the start continue to support FAF, your indispensable contributions allow us to carry on and move ahead with our projects. We are leaving behind us a trail of encouraging signs showing that levels farriery standards are improving where they are most needed. We need volunteers, more sponsors, and we know we can count on your support – thanks to all of this we shall get the job done! Kir3

Thank you all for your important contributions in boosting FAFFID’s reputation in 2016-17 !

Bernard Duvernay
FAF President
May 2017