Skip to content

The Greenhorn Chronicles 19: Will Clinging on Canadian Farriers (1)

2022-08-22

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 30.E, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (25)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightpublishing.com

Individual Publication Date: August 22, 2022

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2022

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,689

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Will Clinging is the President of the Association of Farrier Trainers of Canada and the Vice President of the Western Canadian Farrier’s Association. He discusses: family connections to being a farrier; common story; first starting on a horse; to come back or rediscover; pivotal choices; differences between the education younger farriers might get now; and historical knowledge of the first farriers in Canadian society.

Keywords: Association of Farrier Trainers of Canada, Canada, equestrianism, farriers, The Greenhorn Chronicles, Western Canadian Farrier’s Association, Will Clinging.

The Greenhorn Chronicles 19: Will Clinging on Canadian Farriers (1)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citations after the interview.*

*Interview conducted July 4, 2022.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, today, we are here with Will Clinging, the Vice President of the Western Canadian Farrier Association and the President of The Association of Farrier Trainers of Canada, which is the National Association that’s been newly formed. I’d like to start off with a narrative arc focusing on some of the background. You can only answer as much as you feel comfortable with, but it lets people know a little bit where you’re from. So, were there any family connections to being a farrier?

Will Clinging[1],[2]: Yes and no, many generations ago… I’m from Ireland. I do have blacksmiths in my lineage on my father’s side, but not that I would have ever net any…they were long gone before I was born.

Jacobsen: What about horses for yourself? A lot of people who are trainers or riders, a common story is starting when they were single digit age with horses or with the pony club, for instance.

Will: Yeah, I’m probably not too far off of that. My mother rode when she was young. When I was a kid, we had a couple of ponies and a horse. So, that’s where I learned to ride. I didn’t ride from the time I was probably 10 years old until the time I was 20. And then I rediscovered it.

Jacobsen: What was that feeling when you were first starting on a horse? Do you recall?

Will: As a child? No, I had no idea. Marginal terror, probably, and the total lack of understanding or control or knowledge, but just get on and go for it and hope for the best – which didn’t always happen.

Jacobsen: Why did you decide to come back or rediscover in the 20s?

Will: That’s a good question. I spent my teenage years growing up in Surrey. I wanted to be a carpenter, actually. I spent a couple of years building houses and hated every minute of it. And it was suggested to me that, maybe, I should go to college and take a couple of courses on agriculture because my dad was involved in agriculture, more from an agribusiness perspective. So, I thought, “Why not?” I took a couple of courses at the University of the Fraser Valley in Chilliwack. I really enjoyed it. Then I entered into a two-year diploma program in livestock production. That led me to working on some ranches in the interior and that kicked off my equestrian or my horse career. That was in 1994 and here we are in 2022. I’m still in the horse business.

Jacobsen: If you could take a moment to envision back to that period of 1994 to the time in 2022 now, are there any points in that career trajectory where you would have made a modification to pivotal choices?

Will: I just wanted to be a cowboy, whether that was sort of romance from my childhood reading Westerns or whatever. When I was a teenager in high school and graduating, I actually had no concept that being a cowboy was really a thing, and then having gone to college to study agriculture. You realize that actually ranching and beef production and cowboys do exist. It sort of just became this thing that I wanted to do. And, I guess, if I hadn’t chosen that, I don’t know where I would be honestly because I’ve really spent almost my entire adult life working with horses, probably, because of that first decision to take a course. I don’t even know what it was, and then a night course at Fraser Valley College on agriculture. It just sort of opened all kinds of doors that seemed a lot more interesting than living in Surrey, building houses. Then getting onto the ranches, it was a whole different experience. One that I wasn’t really familiar with, but I just loved it. You’re outside. You get to work with livestock. It was a whole different perspective that I just kind of found easy and comfortable. It really guided the rest of my professional career in a variety of different aspects, but they all come back to horses at the end. I’ve been a cowboy. I’ve been a farrier. I’ve been a horse trainer. I’ve been a cowboy. So, I have kind of been bounced around back and forth between those careers, but, at the end of the day, it’s still really all been about horses. This is going on a long time now.

Jacobsen: Do you notice any differences between the education younger farriers might get now compared to, say, two decades ago?

Will: I would. I would say that when I started, I didn’t really have any education. It was just what I learned from other cowboys that I worked with; and there were definitely shoeing programs that you could go to, but they were all short in duration. A couple to three months, it was all sort of hands-on. If you didn’t work with somebody, you didn’t learn anything. And nowadays, with the internet access to information, the ability to travel, and the popularity of the horse industry, it’s changed a lot in the last 25 years. Natural horsemanship, you’ve got horsemanship clinics. You’ve got more shows. It’s had a far broader public image. It’s got a lot more people into it. The education now, the colleges that teach farriery have expanded. The programs are longer, there’s far more in-depth knowledge that’s expected. Then the last, probably, 10 years with YouTube and the internet, webinars, and YouTube videos, the amount of knowledge that young farriers have access to is really almost endless.

It’s mostly a self-guided path of education. But this is definitely a trade that if you’re into it, it’s easy to get into it because now you have access to things that you didn’t have access to 25 years ago. But if you’re not into, you don’t last very long. So, I would say that now is probably the best time ever to be a farrier if you’re interested in professional development, education, competition, and certification. There’s an endless limit to what you can learn and how you can share that knowledge or use that knowledge. The farrier industry is quite regional and being where I am on Southern Vancouver Island. It’s not like living in rural British Columbia or Alberta or other parts of the country. There’s a real value placed on the animals here. There’s a high expectation for care for the horses, but not such a high expectation for performance.

A lot of adult amateur riders here that have the resources and the facilities and the care and the love and all of those things that go into making good horse people. We’re really fortunate here. So, there’s a high expectation for knowledge and skills. In other areas, they don’t have access to the same type of clientele. Therefore, the demand for knowledge or professionalism or education isn’t as great, but, in this trade itself, really it often becomes a very personal journey on improvement and how good a job you’re doing. There’s a lot of heritage involved. There’s still quite a few farriers that make all their own shoes. There’s a real pride in the craftsmanship that they bring to the trade handmade tools. It’s one of the oldest professions in the world. We still make our living with a hammer and a piece of steel and heat. So, the technology hasn’t affected the fundamentals, but the access to information, knowledge, science, research, imaging, and the study of mechanics and movement is really quite astounding in where it has come. So, if you’re interested in becoming a good farrier, there’s really an endless amount of information that you can access. If you’re not, you’ll end up probably not staying in the industry very long because it just becomes a hard way to make a living.

Jacobsen: Is there any historical knowledge of the first farriers in Canadian society? Where is an organization devoted to them? Is there a particular individual or school of people known?

Will: From an organized farrier perspective, the WCFA has been around for probably 40 odd years. There was a small group of farriers in the Fraser valley that sort of assembled and created this association, guys like Randy Blackstock and others. They just had this thought that, maybe, they should organize. They’ve helped improve the industry and the trade and really they were thinking far beyond their time because, historically, farriers have not worked well together. They’ve often considered themselves to be in competition with other farriers and only a limited amount of business. So, they didn’t always get along. I would think that that dynamic has changed a lot. There are a lot more horses. They’re used much more for recreation than they are for work.

The people that can afford horses in the Fraser valley or on the island or in much of Canada. They can afford their horses and those farriers that are of any good quality are all so busy that we’re actually trying to give clients away rather than trying to argue with our competitors about pricing and service because ‘I can do a better job cheaper if you hire me’; none of that really happens anymore. So, the farrier community has become a far broader community I would say regionally, nationally, and internationally. On my Facebook page, I have probably 500 farriers from all over the world that I’m friends with; and I message with, and I would think that most other farriers that are involved in the community would say the same thing. It’s really astounding where I can message a farrier in the UK and ask for some advice and then get a message back fast within relative to the time zones, but the sharing of information is unbelievable. It wouldn’t really have happened if it hasn’t been for those associations that started out 40 years ago with the goal of trying to bring the community together. But in Canada, who did it first? I honestly couldn’t tell you. It is before my times.

Footnotes

[1] President, Association of Farrier Trainers of Canada; Vice President, Western Canadian Farrier’s Association.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 22, 2022: http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/clinging-1; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2022: https://in-sightpublishing.com/insight-issues/.

Citations

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 19: Will Clinging on Canadian Farriers (1)[Online]. August 2022; 30(E). Available from: http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/clinging-1.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2022, August 22). The Greenhorn Chronicles 19: Will Clinging on Canadian Farriers (1). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/clinging-1.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 19: Will Clinging on Canadian Farriers (1). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 30.E, August. 2022. <http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/clinging-1>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2022. “The Greenhorn Chronicles 19: Will Clinging on Canadian Farriers (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 30.E. http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/clinging-1.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “The Greenhorn Chronicles 19: Will Clinging on Canadian Farriers (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 30.E (August 2022). http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/clinging-1.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2022, ‘The Greenhorn Chronicles 19: Will Clinging on Canadian Farriers (1)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 30.E. Available from: <http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/clinging-1>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2022, ‘The Greenhorn Chronicles 19: Will Clinging on Canadian Farriers (1)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 30.E., http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/clinging-1.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “The Greenhorn Chronicles 19: Will Clinging on Canadian Farriers (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 30.E (2022): August. 2022. Web. <http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/clinging-1>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 19: Will Clinging on Canadian Farriers (1)[Internet]. (2022, August 30(E). Available from: http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/clinging-1.

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Based on a work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012–Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and can disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: