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Research in Farriery Part 3.

By peTer DAy DIpWCF

if you have an idea that you want to research, although the experience may be testing at times, it will certainly be rewarding. your idea may stem from something you’ve seen in daily practice, at certain times of the year, in a certain area of work, or even resulting from a particular surface that horses are worked on.

I have developed a real thirst for knowledge. I am always questioning my practice, always wondering if there’s a better way of doing things? There is no excuse nowadays not to help advance one’s own profession - it can be as simple as taking pictures and videos with your mobile phone and (maybe with a bit of help of people who know about research methodology) to turn this into a sound bit of research. We all see problems, but what they really are are opportunities to improve our practice.

There are a number of things to consider when starting on research; for example, the door you expect to open may slam firmly in your face, but as sure as night follows day, another one will open. you may disprove your hypothesis, but that’s research — a finding in itself.

research can be fed by daily practice. you make an observation, you perceive a problem in your daily work and you find there is nothing out there to solve the problem. So you ask people who you think know better. They, of course, give you their opinion (and let’s face it every farrier has one or two) but there is still no solution that satisfies you. In my case, it was dealing with collapsed heels. The answer I got from other farriers at the time was ‘use bar shoes’, but they did not work for the horses I was dealing with. I thought to myself that there had to a different option, and started looking outside the existing ‘box’. I had a chance conversation (how often do you hear


that?) with a client whose son was in the yacht building business. he put me in touch with an expert in carbon fibre technology. This guy had no idea about horses, so when I told him about the problem and the basic anatomy of the horse’s foot he approached it purely from an engineering point of view, providing a completely new perspective to the problem. At the same time, I talked to the people from the Structure and Motion laboratory at the royal Veterinary College and bringing the two areas of expertise together, I came up with the idea of strengthening the outside wall of the heels using carbon fibre patches. From then on it was a 10-year-long journey of blagging people’s time, use of equipment and expertise till the product was developed and tested.

There was no financial reward for the work; however, at no point did I want to stop taking it forward. When I started out on my own all I wanted to do was shoe horses, but over time

Forge | August 2015

So what’s on the horizon? Do you have an idea that has been nagging at the back of your mind? have you wanted to approach it, but maybe through a lack of confidence, methodology, application or a combination of all three you have been putting off; however, the photos are on your phone, your client updates you on how the horse is going and you have the next appointment booked to look at the progress or lack of it. you’re thinking about how you might implement a change and record your data in a methodical way and this could be the starting point. Whether you are doing this for an exam or to further your knowledge, enjoy the journey and the people you will meet on the way.

The case report on page 15 demonstrates how the results of my research work in practice.

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