The Farrier vs. The Bartender

by Keith Seeley

No. This isn’t about some barroom brawl or Don King’s latest Las Vegas boxing promotion. A very dear friend of mine pointed out the similarities between bartenders and farriers. This one’s been rolling around in my head for quite some time. What’s funny about the analogy is I’ve even thought of giving up the farrier business to become a bartender. Only problem is, I wouldn’t be changing much about the job, just the tools of the trade. I know, I know. You folks think I’m off my rocker, and you may well be right. But if you’ll think about it, you’ll see there are a lot of similarities between the two. You don’t see how, right? Well, just keep reading and I’ll be happy to explain everything. Bear with me and all will be made just as clear as that bottom of that glass you’re looking into…

First of all, I don’t really know who has the better job, the farrier or the bartender. After all, the bartender works in a dimly lit, smoky building. The farrier works in a dimly lit building that he makes smoky. We both have our regular, long-time clientele, many of whom we consider friends, as well as the customers who just seem to be passing through. We both provide a standard service most of the time, however, we both have to know quite a few specialty services as well. We both hear lots of gossip, some of which is true, some of which is about people we know and some of which is out in left field. The bartender stands behind a bar, wiping and cleaning and keeping an eye on things while he converses. Farriers stand behind a horse, rubbing and petting and keeping and eye on things while conversing. Both have an over-abundance of a recyclable bi-product, and I don’t mean the hot air we’re expending. Both have to contend with flies; bar flies and barn flies. Both have to contend with long hours, short pay and customers that never seem to know when enough is enough. Both know lots of people in the community. Both are asked lots of questions crossing lots of borders and lots of topics; some we have a right and knowledge to answer and some we don’t. But we do the best we can to either answer the ones we can, sidestep the ones we can’t, or refer the really important questions that are outside of our trade to the people who do have the knowledge. Yep, there’s a lot we have in common.

Now then, having said all that. Let me make it perfectly clear, bartenders ain’t got nothing on farriers! Let me list out all the different professions that are rolled up into this job. First and foremost, a farrier has to be, well, a farrier. Trained and educated in the art and science of farriery. Along with that, there are a whole host of other professions that the better farriers are educated in and have learned to incorporate. Why? Well, it makes our jobs easier and provides a better service to the horse owner. It sorta reads like the Boy Scout motto, you know, a Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. Well, a Farrier is an Equine Podiatrist, Human and Equine Psychologist, Equine Nutritionist, Equine Chiropractor, Veterinary Assistant, Blacksmith, Horse Trainer, Detective, Mental and Physical Therapist, Businessmen, Theorist, Alchemist, Library of General knowledge and a walking ad for any number of health products and beauty aids. On top of all this, we ‘do’ all of this in 30 degree weather (or less), 100 degree weather, rain or shine, low or high humidity, and we do it all year around. Why? Good question. Some of us are just plain hard-headed I guess. But mostly because we like helping make horses feel better, we like interacting with horse people and we like a certain amount of freedom and self-control. We also like knowing we have a certain gift and we like seeing the results from it. And we do tend to like the Great Outdoors. On the other hand, we like NOT being in an office where we have to wear suits and ties. We don’t like is, having to deal with flies, gnats and mosquitoes, dogs-cats-chickens-geese-ducks-kids-etc. under foot while we’re working, poorly lit buildings, NO buildings, mud covered feet – both ours and the horses-, no relief from hot, humid days, irate customers, people who don’t pay and people whose horses are smarter than they are. These are a few of our least favorite things. Now, you show me even one bartender who can match all this! You know, that bartending job is beginning to look better and better all the time. Plus, there’s an added bonus, they ALWAYS have a good supply of refreshing, cold beverages readily at hand. Ah, what a life. Well, I learned how to spell farrier, I ‘spose I can learn to spell bartender, too. Don’t you think??? Cheers!

If you have any questions you would like answered or need some advice on a problem, please contact me. I’ll be happy to do what I can to help.

Thanks and Happy Trails.