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A shared passion for horse feet
The relationship between farrier and veterinarian doesnt have to be one of begrudging acceptance. Rather, it can blossom into respect and learning.
I was in a farmer's barn looking at a sick pig when I met Randy. He was putting shoes on an old gelding and I watched him work from across the expanse between the pigs and the horses. Randy made the backbreaking job look effortless. I'd been around farriers my whole life, and I could tell this was a good one.
I'd only been in Lamesa for about a year and had heard Randy's name thrown around as the best farrier in the area, but I'd never actually met him. Today was the day. I went over and introduced myself and we began talking about horse feet. My passion has always been equine lameness and surgery, and I never missed a chance to talk to someone else with the same zeal.
We talked about how to shoe for navicular problems, or side bone, or bone spavin. He had some great ideas and was trying things I'd never heard of. Randy told me who he'd trained under and all about how he'd evolved in his philosophy of keeping horses sound and correctively shoeing the ones that weren't.
I was fascinated, and I asked Randy if he'd come to my clinic to shoe horses once a week. I told him we could get the locals to drive to the clinic so he wouldn't have to travel from place to place and could get more done in the same amount of time. I could save all the horses that needed corrective work in my practice for that day as well.
He just smiled with a little Copenhagen smokeless tobacco between his front teeth and said, “Nope, I'm not interested in that at all.”
Man, that was disappointing. He was nice about it, but there was no doubt left in the barn that this fella wasn't going to work at some vet clinic.
We talked a little longer and shook hands, and I figured that was the end of my dealings with Randy Bradshaw. He was plenty nice, but he was independent and completely uninterested in having some snotty-nosed veterinarian telling him how to shoe a horse.
The months passed and circumstance led to us working on a few horses together-he was the client's farrier and I was the veterinarian. We would talk on the phone and I would tell him what the radiographs showed and how the horse blocked out. We would bounce a few ideas off each other and then Randy would work his magic. I was continually impressed with his knowledge and skills, but most of all I was impressed with the pride he took in fixing broken horses.
As time passed we worked on more horses together. After a few successes and a few failures, it became obvious that we made a pretty good team. One day when we were talking about a case, Randy asked if the offer was still good for him to come work at the clinic once a week. I didn't hesitate a second and told him it absolutely was.
For the next 10 years Randy came to Brock Veterinary Clinic on Tuesdays. We went to continuing education meetings all over this part of the world together. He taught me stuff about horses' feet that will always be a part of how I approach lameness. He brought me new clients from all over our region and had faith that I would do my best to fix them.
I always wanted to be a horse vet in a mixed animal practice in rural America. I have been blessed to get to do that at the highest level, and for much of that I credit Randy Bradshaw. He gave me confidence in the early years of my practice-confidence just because he was around to help me figure out how horses move and what changing their feet does to that movement. We became best of friends and still are today.
I've often wondered what my career would be like if Randy hadn't wandered into my world. It would be different-much different. So here's to you, Randy Bradshaw, and all the other farriers out there who are making a difference.
Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing from Rural America.
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