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Recognizing Tomorrow’s Top Farriers

In 2008, American Farriers Journal established the “Rising Shoe Star” program which honors outstanding young shoers who are enjoying successful careers as farriers 3 years after graduation from one of North America’s more than 60 public and private horseshoeing schools.

Co-sponsors of this program include Victory Racing Plate Company, Vettec, Delta Mustad Hoofcare Center, Life Data Labs, G.E. Forge And Tool and Anvil Brand Shoe Company. Each firm is a leader in recognizing the value of developing new players in the equine footcare industry.

On February 5, American Farriers Journal recognized three of these individuals at the International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. Each of the winners received a plaque, a 1-year subscription to American Farriers Journal, Summit registration and the American Farriers Journal “Kitchen Sink” package — a 3,406-page footcare reference library valued at $575. Also, the grand prize winner received $1,000 and the two runner-ups each received $500 to help them continue their hoof-care education

In addition, each school will receive a plaque honoring the selection of one of their graduates for this award.

Grand Prize Winner

The grand winner of this year’s “Rising Shoeing Star “ program is Mike Caldwell of Paso Robles, Calif. Mike is a 2005 graduate of Kelly and Chris Gregory’s Heartland Horseshoeing School in Lamar, Mo. Since graduating from the school’s eight-week Practical Farrier Course in May of 2005, Mike has established a successful farrier practice in Southern California.

He quickly became an AFA Certified Farrier after graduation and qualified in 2007 as a Certified Journeyman Farrier. Caldwell has become involved with his local farrier association and serves as committee chairman for organizing contests, clinics and certification events, normally one of the more difficult jobs in these groups. He has also continued his education by enrolling in an advanced skills blacksmithing course.

With a strong work ethnic and keen interest in footcare, Caldwell has developed a successful business that includes 200 horses. He is also one of two farriers that works with horses at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and has also put on several footcare clinics for their students and faculty members.

Runners Up

Robert Whitt of Phelan, Calif. He graduated in 2005 from the Sierra South Horseshoeing School that is operated by veteran farrier Kenny Lyon in Ramona, Calif.

Following his schooling, Whitt started on the trail for shoeing certification, has attended many clinics and traveled with veteran shoers to expand his knowledge. In early 2006, he added Certified Farrier to his business cards and this was soon followed by the title of Certified Journeyman Farrier.

As word spread of his desire and expanding talents, Whitt has gained a solid reputation for good work that has led to adding more customers. He has found that the keys to growing his shoeing business have been to always be on time, keep appointments, present himself well and demonstrate that he is knowledgeable about the equine foot.

To further expand his education, Whitt spent three months working with veteran farriers in England through the American Farrier’s Association Cultural Exchange Program. He has also gained the trust and respect of several local equine veterinarians, which has helped get him into therapeutic and corrective shoeing.

The final recipient of the “Rising Shoeing Star” award is Keith Green of Wakeman, Ohio. Green is a 2005 graduate of Danny Ward’s Horseshoeing School in Martinsville, Va. He followed this training by apprenticing with three veteran farriers in Pennsylvania and Ohio before starting his own footcare business. He continues to work one day each week with one of the Ohio farriers to continue his learning, along with attending various clinics, the Summit and other footcare meetings. To further his forging talents, Keith competes at various clinics and at the American Farrier’s Association annual convention.

In early 2008, Keith qualified as a Certified Journeyman Farrier and now has 260 horses in his client base on a 6- to 8-week trimming and shoeing schedule.

In his day-to-day work, Keith stresses professional and pays special attention to relating to the wants and needs of clients and teaching them about good hoof health. If a horse is having a foot issue, Keith makes sure the client understands what is going on and their role in alleviating the problem.

Next Year

Next year’s program will honor students who graduated from horseshoeing school in 2006 and have developed a successful career in the equine footcare business.

If you know of a shoer who qualifies for next year’s award, you can nominate this person by sending a 2- to 3-page letter outlining why the candidate is being nominated and the progress he or she has made in establishing a successful equine career. Be sure to include information on the horseshoeing school from which the nominee graduated in 2006. The deadline to enter is Dec. 1., 2009.

An independent panel of hoof-care industry leaders will evaluate the nominations and select three winners. The winning “Rising Shoeing Star” farrier will receive $1,000 and also have his or her expenses paid to the 2010 International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati in early February to accept the award in front of the industry’s leading hoof-care professionals. Two runner-ups will each receive $500 awards. The three winners will also receive a plaque, a 1-year subscription to American Farriers Journal, free Summit registration and the American Farriers Journal “Kitchen Sink” package.

The schools that produce the three winners will receive a plaque and the American Farriers Journal “Kitchen Sink” package


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