By – Dr. Jay Merriam
What a spectacular day in the tropics it was! But hot and humid by noon. We met up with our master farrier Pichetto Herrera who has volunteered again from his practice in Santo Domingo to join us in the small village of El Limon for a day of training with Drs.Steve O'Grady and Celeste Grace. Our mission every year is to inspire and train some local would be farriers to better serve their community by doing a more adequate job of protecting the hard pressed working equids. They work a lot and eat only a little according to Kim Beddall our coordinator. They carry coconuts and tourists as needed and are the sole support of many families. The average shoeing interval is 12 to 16 weeks and sometimes more. Shoes are randomly selected, loosely nailed and trimming is mostly inept, judging by the sheared heels, club feet and curled toes.
After an initial lecture about measuring and trimming in which Steve used a piece of scrap wood to show leveling and proportion, they watched and then began to participate. We had vet students from Santo Domingo translating as he spoke and then gradually introduced Pichetto into the discussion as it morphed into a demonstration and then a participatory workshop . B
y noon we had thinned the crowd from 20 observers to about 6 actual farrier prospects who stuck with us through the rest of the day. As the sun got higher and the shady spots fewer everybody worked up a sweat! By 3 pm we had done about 10 horses all around and the last
ones were done by students we all trained. Simple (to us) things like stance so you don't kill your back, to tool handling and foot control were major efforts to get across. Dr. Grace often did pantomime and got great results as the photos will attest.
This was by all accounts a huge success. These little communities need to grow their own farriers and support them if they are to prosper and expand. Master farriers like Pichetto are unavailable both financially and logistically. He did however like one of our students enough to agree to hire him as an apprentice for 3 months and after that he could come back here. We are working to find monetary support for more programs like this and will contact World Horse Welfare
next week about the possibility of getting one of their training teams here. Had many serious discussions with community leaders as we worked and it is nice to see that they understand the importance of all we are doing in Project Samana.