Granada, Nicaragua Farrier Training Program
One week into the Granada, Nicaragua farrier training program and we had a working forge by the 3rd day. The Granada carriage drivers’ association has generously let us use their facility as our shoeing shop. Cart and carriage drivers are coming in for assistance in learning how to better shoe their horses, and several have, after hands-on training, been given hand tools generously donated by Western States Farrier Association members, Horseshoe Barn (in Sacramento, Ca.) and FPD (Farrier Products Distribution). Some of the tools trainees are receiving are new to them conceptually. There were several crease nail pullers in the donation to this project from FPD, and those that have used them (and a few who have already received them) were particularly delighted by the ingenuity and obvious utility of that particular tool. They had never seen one before.
They have used my stall jack for shaping shoes and thought it was the neatest thing since sliced bread so Dr. Lenz made a small purchase possible at the steel supply in Managua so I can teach them how to make one. I will also show it to a local welder/ metal fabricator so they can be available as a market item locally. Any real farrier tool is rare and deeply appreciated. Farrier tools in this area, to my knowledge, are only available at one store in the capital city,
which is about 45 minutes away by car. This open source farrier skills training program is primarily funded and directed by Dr. Shelley Lenz (Killdeer Veterinary Clinic, North Dakota). Dr. Lenz is very active in Equitarian Initiative and HSVMA-RAVS (Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association-Rural Area Veterinary Services) projects. “Chris Martin DWCF is also here in the shop with us for 2 weeks. Sam Durham CJF DWCF, a WSFA member, contributed part of Chris’s air fare in support of this project. The Durham family has been a steady source of encouragement, good will, inspiration and good council for me. Chris Martin’s quiet demeanor, forge and tool repair ability, horsemanship and desire to teach others are incredible assets in the shop and I am very grateful for his patience and presence.Most of the guys we are working with are Nicaraguan. Many of the guys we are working with live on an income just above subsistence level. Reduction in Central America crop productivity earlier in the year due to drought exacerbated economic issues in the region. It is raining more often now, and the animals are looking pretty good, but crop/ coffee/ dairy/ beef production issues earlier in the year are still affecting a lot of folks financially now (annual income).
IMG_2060.JPG Feed costs for cart and carriage horses were high and that had an effect on the drivers. We have one trainee from El Salvador attending for the month of September, and another Salvadoran who will attend the last week of September. Both Salvadoran gentleman attended farrier clinic days held in El Salvador this year in early July. Many people here (and in other places worldwide) rely on horses and other working animals to make a living for themselves and their families. The cart or pack horse is used for jobs to generate income, for basic transportation, to bring home food from market, to get firewood.
In more rural areas kids ride them to school. Good (or bad) farriery has a real effect on these peoples’ daily livelihood. It is an incredibly rewarding experience to help others on that fundamental level by using and sharing, to the best of our ability, the skills and knowledge of our trade. That often includes making a tool you need because it is not available otherwise. There are several organizations active in Central America (and other faraway places) which include hoof care as part of their projects. Farriers that have an interest in supporting hoof care in these
international projects can do so with time or material. It is something that can be done on an individual level, or by adopting support of a particular project with a group of farrier friends, chapter or regional/ national association. You can find more information about these projects through your farrier associations, veterinarians and, of course, the internet.