The Wonderful World of Opinions:
You can never argue with an opinion. Maybe the merits, but not the message. However, you can write a book, call it fiction and then run away to Panama and open a gas station. That is the marvelous part about granting an opinion via a literary license. Sort of a passive-aggressive case of 'putting money where your mouth is' maneuver. If the Library of Congress goes for it...the opinion lives long after the author's final breath. Gotta love it.
My last two posts were a reversion actually, kind of like when a person constantly repeats themselves to see if anything has really changed. A bad memory test in that if nothing has changed, then what are you left with really? Less oxygen and the same damn elephant that has been parked on the living room sofa for what? Thirty years or so.
At least five times I have said, "You know Andy, you oughta toss that speech out the window." Probably good advice, but it is not the speech that appears to be the problem, but rather the audience. Every performance earns a spattering of polite applause, the usual, "Go f...yourself!" some slightly dishonest agreement veiled in a covert -- you know, e-mail versus something with witnesses in the room, and the elephant just yawns and drifts off into an incontinent sleep...and I watch the urine flow downhill and pool around my feet.
I think I should really dispense with the practical, toss out the logical and focus more on primal psychology, because it seems that the real issue revolves around security and safety. The notion, at least for many farriers, that a credo, a rule, a measurement...no, not a theory, too vague -- charts, graphs, blue prints...a gold star on a 3rd-grade essay. Security through external validation because the rest always produces doubts. Doubts threaten safety because someone will always ask you to explain yourself. And of course, you can't. Not to the owner's satisfaction or perhaps even your own. The average shoeing job probably has four explainable aspects and twenty-some variables that sound like either Bulgarian voodoo or something related to ship construction. Black and white, at this point, has left the room.
Then we have the other camp. Those folks that instead of swimming from a marauding shark, want to stop and seek an opinion about the shark's motivation. Horseshoeing is an adventure, a great leap into the unknown world of Einstein's private musings. One of the only real opportunities to throw off the yoke of conformity and stretch very basic abilities and skills into something more meaningful. They only see rules, certifications, tests, questions...as impediments to creativity; certainly as no protection from the uncertainties of the task at hand. Because the truth is that they thrive at the edge of the precipice and would have it no other way.
And so the two-camp struggle continues while the elephant quietly dozes. Those that see the posse of real-world probabilities getting ever closer, and the casual outlaws of non-conformity who simply mask the trail behind them and hope for the best. Neither camp is right and certainly no camp is wrong. So far the real world has only managed to catch the occasional interloper, leaving much of the mob unscathed by the burdens of conformity. Sure, that could change, but no threat currently looms on the horizon. None that hasn't been seen before in some other guise or ugly apparition.
So we really have what could be called a 30-year impasse. The question though is whether the time has been well-spent. Personally, I don't think so. I see the same issues, concerns, divisions...more seem to be added with time, and of course the aging elephant on the couch. It would seem that it should be the business of all farriers and their representative groups to put these scared cows we seem to either covet, or maybe morbidly fear, on the agenda of official discussion. Contests and education are excellent pursuits, socially and as an adjunct to building a better business. But it is not and has never been, enough. You need to ask yourself and more importantly, your representative group where they stand and just how they plan to address any and all concerns facing farriery as a whole. And in case you haven't noticed, the age of the individualist vanished some time back. We live in a world of political armies. Become one or surrender to one.