A Farrier’s Thoughts On Relationships With Horses

Steve Teichman of Chester County Farrier Associates is one of the most respected farriers in the nation, with more than 40 years of hands-on horseshoeing experience in all facets of the farrier business and over 25 years of working with the US Equestrian Team. He is a true artist when it comes to shoeing horses and equine soundness. Thank you to Steve for writing!

Steve Teichman in Rio at the 2016 Olympic Games.

In working with horses (and people), some ways of “knowing” don’t require your typical understanding. Watching a beautiful sunrise or a foal being born, for example. The Zen master asks, “What was your face before you were born? It makes us question who we are. Are we a “tabula rasa” … a clean slate?

(I know we are not an empty slate as my son taught me in the first weeks of his arrival; “tabula rasa” he was not!)

Ever meet two horses the same? Me either. There really is no clear cut answer as to why. It may take a lifetime to understand some horses — this essence of what they are born with. Somewhere along the way, faith, trust and unconditional love anchor the horse and rider.

How is this relationship forged with our horses? We think we know our horses, but are almost clueless as to how they experience the world around them. Yes, clueless. Horses are not bogged down by reason; they seem to know exactly what to do. They know (not sure they can think) but they know!

In early Native American culture the horse represents physical power… and unearthly power. If you stole a horse, you functionally stole power! We measure our modern engines with the term “horsepower” — that’s how important they are to us.

After 45 years as a farrier and a thinking guy. I question what goes on between those ears. They challenge me every single day. It seems that the more we try to understand them, we realize the less we really know.

It is totally human nature to understand how things work; it’s how we are raised. This is the most amazing aspect of my job as a farrier — never boring; they are always throw a curve at you. If you get bored looking at feet day in and day out, you’re missing the beauty here.

For some reason the more I know about my job as a farrier, the less I seem to know. What’s that all about? There is a wisdom within the horse, and it is about power — the power to carry responsibility in a “balanced” manner.

My relationship with horses is a bit of colliding, twisting and smashing … then it repeats itself! (It’s the real reason I don’t ride.) By 7 in the morning, I have been burned, cut and stepped on!

Do we have to understand them totally to appreciate them, care for them, love them? How many of us have had to deal with that sensitive, unpredictable, trying animal but we just can’t stop coming back? Like Kenny Chesney says, “One is one to many, one more is never enough.”

Can we work with them — dare say even love them — without knowing totally what they are about? Allowing some of their “power” or magic into our lives can and does eliminate doubts. Once doubt is eliminated, anything is possible. This is what horses do: give us access to the true sense of who we are — caring, loving, sharing, teaching.

Yes, horses are gateways to power.