|© Henry Heymering and David Millwater
published in ANVIL Magazine February, 1998
The founders of the Guild held education to be its keystone, and the first annual convention dramatically reflected that philosophy.
The Guild of Professional Farriers Association's first annual convention (November, 1997 in Asheville, North Carolina) was long on quality and short on quantity. Although it was lacking in expected spectator numbers, it did not lack in participation. All of the speakers had captive audiences. The vendors did a brisk business and were very enthusiastic about the Guild and what it stands for.
Some of the highlights of the convention were lectures by the Guild's own registered journeyman farrier members. They were:
Bob Peacock, RJF - Bob introduced the new Farrier Industry Museum which he created. It houses a huge collection of historical farrier tools. The museum is mobile and is housed in a trailer, which will no doubt be showing up in many interesting places across the country.
Gene Ovnicek, RJF, gave a fascinating lecture on his findings from his extensive wild horse research and his theory and method of natural balance trimming.
R.F. Redden, RJF, DVM, spoke on the importance and use of X-rays.
Tony Gonzales, RJF, brought his friend, "Dolly," a complete horse skeleton. This was a unique and eye-opening opportunity to see much of what goes on under the skin. There were curious lesions, and one could see how a change in the posture in one part of the body caused changes in the posture in other parts of the body.
The live shoeing and hand-on demonstrations were done in the outdoor covered arena to avoid any conflict with the fire marshall over use of multiple propane forges inside the Ag Center's main building.
Rick Burten of Champaign, Illinois, earned the distinction of being the first farrier to complete the Registered Journeyman Farrier examination during a national convention. Several other farriers also achieved written completion of the exams at the convention.
Several horses came through for demonstration shoeing and evaluation as student farriers and horseshoers had the opportunity to participate in the freeform clinic put on by registered journeymen from across the country. They included Jack Miller (who demonstrated the new Luwex pads), Bucky Hatfield, Horseshoeing Charlie, Henry Heymering, Clyde Caldwell and Dave Millwater, to name a few.
Indoors, Bob Skradzio, Steve Watkins, Baron Tayler, Jerry Jones, Gene Ovnicek, Tony Gonzales, Donald Jones, Danny Ward, Ric Redden, Kevin Fahey and Bob Peacock gave formal lectures and demonstrations on a range of subjects including therapeutic farriery, contributing to the profession, radiographic technique, tool use, and ways that farriers can utilize Internet resources.
Special thanks go Jeff Crane, Mike and Karen Stine, Billy and Sherry Barham, Marcus Pierce, Scott and Janet Childres, David Millwater, Henry Heymering and the officers and board of the Guild for putting on the convention.
The first Guild president and vice president were elected at the 1997 Guild National Convention. Henry Heymering (Cascade, MD) is the new Guild president. Bucky Hatfield (Bloomington Springs, TN) is vice president. Election chairman, Becky Cameron (Roseville, CA), reports that over two thirds of the Guild members returned ballots. These were unsealed and counted during the convention.
Marcus Pierce and Dirk Braak filled the chairman and cochairman slots in the interim before the first presidential elections.
Guild vice-president Bucky Hatfield was officially named in charge of the 1998 Guild Convention, with John Warner as convention co-chairman. The 1998 Convention is slated for Knoxville, Tennessee the last weekend of October. Host hotel will be the Holiday Inn. Written certification will be available Thursday and Friday evenings, with the practical given on Saturday. Bucky is planning on having four major speakers, a large banquet, and the participation of some generous sponsors.
The BWFA aspect of the Guild's grandfather program was terminated effective 30 days after public notification, which was made via the Internet on November 17, 1997. AFA certified journeymen who meet the Guild's other prerequisites may still apply under the grandfather program, as may United Kingdom farriers with DWCF, AWCF or FWCF credentials.
The board voted for the Guild to participate in the 1998 Bluegrass Laminitis Symposium for the second year. The Board voted to have the Guild participate in the 1998 AFA Convention Marketplace via a later Correspondence Action ballot.