I have brought myself kind of full circle in this industry. When I decided I wanted to be an elite Farrier, I knew I would have to seek out the best farriers in the world to learn from. It’s kind of like island hopping in World War II. I read dozens of magazines, journals and printed materials. Why learn from any article that any publication did on any farrier? I wanted to learn personally from the guy that taught him. So I joined the B.W.F.A. in 1993. The reason was these names were popping up like Burney Chapman, Bud Beaston, Tony Gonzales, Reggie Kester, Jack Miller, and Elmer Seybold. Then I saw a story on CNN about this guy that was doing some really modern and radical things in the Atlanta area. His name was Ralph something. Just kidding Ralph! What I am getting at is Ralph, Ginger, and the B.W.F.A. allowed me to get under all of these guys feet until they were sick of answering my questions. What I learned from all of them first was humility. When all these men personally helped me, it wasn’t for 300.00 a session or whatever professional clinicians get these days. They knew that I was hungry to learn and all it cost me was some gas and lots of paying attention to what they said.
Sean McDonough (right), BWFA Master Farrier of Kansas
I started putting on clinics and I called a lot of them and a lot of them came. Here is the point. They came because I was hungry to learn and I was hungrier for my clients to learn. At that time I’m 30 years old and these guys are the best on the planet, and now I’m standing next to them! Now I really get to learn and they are coming to me!!! In this day and age we have to stroke egos and pay money. We won’t ask because were too smart and too proud. We experience animosity with Veterinarians and I think in part we signed up for it. It seems to me that all we want is respect in our industry, not to be the tip of the sword in our industry.
When a new client meets me they still see Chester the Blacksmith. They usually have a professional clinician telling them what to tell me. We waste huge amounts of time and mental effort to try to force respect on us. If it weren’t for farriers since the time of Christ, we would still be in the dark ages. That’s why it pisses me off when I go to some horse expo, and there is a Professional Barrel Racing Clinician that is telling me how to shoe a barrel horse. So you can stand there and argue with her, she has the crowd! Or you can whip out your trusty laptop afterwards, show her the digital radiograph, and explain to her that is why she is only a Professional Clinician and I am a Certified Master Farrier with the B.W.F.A., A.F.A. or whomever your loyalty lies with. I don’t know if I have ever had an original thought. But when I speak, Burney, Bud, Tony, Reggie, Jack, Elmer, and Ralph are talking. It’s just my voice. Now who is the crowd looking at? Respect is earned and sometimes it takes a lot of humility to get it. Take 1 day a week, do research, read a book, talk to people. Listen before you speak. Change the culture of our industry. These are and were truly great men. Speak their words with your voice. You’re never too old or smart to Learn – Learn – Learn!!! Show your humility. Teach – Teach- Teach!!! Do the right thing even if no one else is looking.
B.W.F.A Certified Master Farrier
Please note…from BWFA Headquarters, 2015
Since this article was first printed in 2011, Burney, Bud, Tony, Reggie, Jack, Elmer and Sean’s father Patrick McDonough have passed away. Sean, his father and son were there generations of farriers. Sean has struggled with cancer on and off for 20 or more years now and still finds himself right back into helping horse people and farriers. It was very fortunate that he and all of us at the BWFA were able to know these well-known farriers who offered their knowledge to others to better the farrier industry. It was evident that they truly loved their craft and had a great time doing it.