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Certification of Farriers

  Back when I was shoeing horses for a living, I was called in as an expert witness in several court cases - all against the same man.  Every time, I would be asked about my qualifications vs his, & his attorney would harass me considerably for 'proof'.  I got pretty good at said proofs, but it irked me that aside from my reputation for thoroughness & success rate with tough cases - my specialty was orthopedics; too often mis-called 'corrective' shoeing - I had no standards to back me. 

  Of course, there was also the fact that he had 'x' number of lawsuits for crippling horses & that I was often the farrier called in to try to fix what he had screwed up, but still - there was no set of standards we could refer to.  There were no criteria we could reference.

  So in 1972, I stood up in front of the annual American Farriers' Assn. & called for said certification to be developed by us because if we merely went with licensing, we were being judged capable by a bunch of bureaucrats & they had no criteria or standards to back their decision as to whether or not to license an individual.  We needed standards based on the knowledge of competent professionals in the discipline of farriery.  And in so doing, I split the farrier community into two factions instantly - those who agreed this was wise, and those who wanted to tar & feather me & ride me out of town on a rail wrapped in barbed wire.

  Unfortunately, this included the first (& long-time repeat) President of the AFA (Walt Taylor).  As it turned out, he was one of those lice who weaseled around behind people's backs.  Eventually, however, such crud always gets exposed.  After 9 years of battling over this, our then-Executive Secretary, Hazel Senn, who was an elderly, delightful, & thoroughly professional secretary, came to me quietly with proof that Walt had been misappropriating funds all along, including for mistresses.

  She said she did not have the disposition or courage to stand up & expose him, nor did she have the qualifications as a farrier that would give the needed added strength to deal with Walt.  She had receipts for AFA credit card purchases - for airline tickets & hotel rooms for Walt & his wife, Marianne - but I knew that on those dates, she was home, because I had spoken with her on the phone.  There were Association credit card receipts for purchases of earrings - for pierced ears.  Marianne did not have pierced ears.  There were Association credit card receipts for purchases of lingerie & shoes for "Mrs. Taylor" - in size 10 & size 9; while I knew Marianne wore size 6 & size 7, respectively.  I made photocopies of everything & gave the originals back to Hazel.

  Then I found out that Walt had been bad-mouthing me behind my back all those years, asking how I 'really' got my customers; did I give "additional after-hours services, since female farriers just weren't likely to be accepted by the general horse-owning public".  In other words, he asked if I whored for my clientele.  I have never beggedc or balled for anything in my life (ok, other than fun) & now I was angry in addition to seriously disgusted.  Our memberships at the time cost $75 a year; or about the time it takes to shoe a horse & do a creditable job.  The wear & tear on our bodies is considerable.  Then too, I have less than no patience with any form of bigotry.  Walt was about to "get his"; & he wasn't going to like it.
  I formulated a plan which I knew would take 3 years to enact; called friends who were also officers in the various divisions of the AFA (all male); explained the situation to them & sent them copies of the receipts.  We put in a lot of time & money via conference calls over the next 3 years.

  At first, they were hugely hesitant.  The "good old boy network" effect.  I leaned on them hard about professionalism & theft & the fact that the AFA was a 501c3 - a non-profit organization; & if we officers of its divisions didn't do something, eventually the IRS would find out, & then we would all be liable for the punishments - which could include finances.  They knuckled to good sense.  We honed The Plan & put it into action.

  There was spreading the word quietly about Walt's activities, along with copies of the receipts which we never let out of our hands.  Eyes only was the watchword.  Walt would get rumors, but there was no proof.  Yet.  Then we went to the first "next" AFA Annual Convention, & lowered the boom on Part I.

  Walt knew about it, because he brought some man with card #1 in the International Assoc. of Parliamentarians to the meeting.  The membership was there with new but very well-thumbed copies of Roberts Rules of Order.  I hung out in the back - near the door nearest to the phones.  I had a friend in the State Department, & when we needed guidance, I would call him.  That dear man "stood by" for a Saturday & a Sunday of a weekend, to coach us.  My phone bill for those two days was over $300.00 .  Yes, it was tax-deductible.  The man I was married to at the time nearly had a coronary over it, but it wasn't his business or his reputation on the line..  We won Round 1.

  We put in tons more time the next year on executing the appropriate stages of The Plan.  By the time we got to the next Annual Convention, Walt thought he had us wrapped up.  My friend from State was still helping us.  I'm "really good" at such things; he does it for a living & is a Master.  We won Round 2. 

  I was injured that year, & went to the Convention on crutches.  My phone bill was nearly $400 for the 2 days of the Annual Meeting.  As I was leaving, I saw Walt glad-handing some people, trying to do damage control, but I knew we had won - we only had to shine things up over the next year & finish at the next Annual Meeting.  I was so disgusted with him & his crap antics, I tried to ease out without speaking to him.  He saw me, hailed me, came over with a big smile & a handshake & said, "Boy!  That was some meeting this year, wasn't it!  I wonder where the guys got all that knowledge of procedure?!  I would never have expected them to be able to move like they did.  Have you got any ideas on it?"

  I amazed myself.  I wanted to spit on him & whack him with my crutches til they broke.  Instead, I smiled slightly at him & said, "I don't know, Walt.  Ask me no questions & I'll tell you no lies, though.."  And he figured it out in a couple of seconds.  Actually, it was pretty funny, & even now, over 20 years later, I'm smiling & chuckling at his reaction.

  He foamed at the mouth.  He snarled sounds, not words.  He was so loud, the hotel security came on the run to protect me.  They knocked him on the floor & handcuffed him.  In the lobby of the Raleigh convention hotel.  They asked me what I wanted done with him.  I said, "Put him in a closet, handcuffed, & keep him there until my train has left, would you?"  They were happy to.  I grinned at him & said, "You see, Walt, you louse; I didn't do it for me.  I did it for all the Jacobs (a Jew in our organization Walt caused great trouble to) & Sams (black man) you dissed; as well as women like me, who never whored for anything, unlike the chippies you cheated on Marianne with - & all the hard-working guys who trusted you.  You piece of "szit".  

  I started to leave, but then I turned back & said, "& by the way, Walt - Marianne has copies of all the proofs we used to show the membership what a crud you are & have been & what you've really done with our hard-earned money.  Have a nice life.  You're not done yet by a long shot."

  Then I left.  The securities had their hands full, he was so mad.  I grinned for hours.  Called Marianne from the train station & told her & she thanked me.  I trust she has done better since..

  The 3rd year, we finished the job.  We got the Constitution changed so that not only could Walt never be an officer of the AFA or any Affiliate division of it again, none of his protege's could, either.  He was out for life.  And we got the Constitution changed so that part could not be revoked unless the AFA was dissolved, left in limbo for a year, & then re-formed & put thru the entire 501c3 application process again.

  There were actually fist fights at the Convention, after hours, between men who backed me & those who backed Walt.  But we won.  And in so doing, so did horses & farriers across the US.

  Healing the Sacred Hoop is not easy work, & it's not for the shy or retiring.  It takes many forms.  It's my Job.  Horses are sacred in my People's Way & that of many other First Nations.  :-)

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Reader Comments  (2)

 | June 30th 2012 at 1341087318

That was a great story. You sound like a very strong woman!
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C_Two_Eagle | July 2nd 2012 at 1341238641

I am. :-) We become what we spend the most time working with. I spent mine working with hot iron & horses & my brain. An excellent combination to produce such as me; & I hope to inspire other women to do whatever they really want to, & to hell with "what other people might think". The reality is, most people don't think; they just recycle the thoughts of people before them & only claim to think. What a pity!

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