COLLEGE STATION, TX –A certain specialization that is often overlooked or unknown by many people today is that of a farrier. A farrier’s job is to provide shoes for horses, and to work on their hoof problems. The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences does a lot of work on lame horses, and a big part of treatment for horses’ hooves often requires therapeutic shoeing, and a specialist who knows what to do.
“For years, Texas A&M has had a farrier contract on an “as needed” basis” said Dr. Kent Carter, Professor of Equine Lameness and Chief of Medicine at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine Large Animal Hospital. “The problem with this type of contract is that we don’t always know when we are going to need a farrier and that makes us unable to provide full service to our clients.”
One year ago the faculty decided to do more towards pursuing a full time farrier to provide a better resource for our clients as well as a better teaching and learning environment for professional veterinary students.
“We set out on a national search for a full-time farrier and received a tremendous response” said Carter. “There were 30 or 40 applicants who were narrowed down to 12, and finally we interviewed 5 of them. Jason Wilson-Maki had the most outstanding interview.”
For Wilson-Maki, there had always been the future goal of working at a vet hospital. But finding the farrier job opportunity at the CVM came about by accident.
“My family and I were originally just looking at relocating to a warmer climate” said Wilson-Maki.
A native of Ohio and a 1997 graduate of the Heartland Horseshoeing School, Jason was qualified for the job because of his previous experience and teaching. He also has a double certification in the American Farrier’s Association and the Farrier’s Guild. He showed great enthusiasm about horses and teaching during his interview and began work at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine during October of 2008.
Wilson-Maki feels that one of the greatest benefits of working as a farrier at a vet hospital, as opposed to being self-employed, is that working with so many veterinarians eliminates the guesswork, and is of greater benefit to the horses.
“Having a diagnosis and a prescription reduces the amount of trial and error required to improve an animal’s performance or soundness” said Wilson-Maki. “Moreover, the direct communication between the clinicians and myself benefits the animal by reducing the risk of a miscommunication. If I have any technical or application concerns, these issues can be discussed. This facilitates an individualized, comprehensive treatment for the animal which accomplishes the goals of the attending clinician and stays in step with the fundamental principles of sound farriery. This team approach is a great joy for me.”
Since such a huge part of an equine veterinarian’s career has to do with providing the physical skills needed to handle problematic hooves, Wilson-Maki’s expertise has taken the veterinary medical students’ education to the next level.
“It has been such an enjoyable experience interacting with the vet students” said Wilson-Maki, “it is great to be able to see the light go on in their heads when applying certain aspects that they have been taught, but have not been able to apply until now. The students are constantly challenging me with questions that I must sometimes pause to think about the answer! Working at the CVM has truly been the best experience of my life.”
From enhancing veterinary medical education to providing value added service for clients, the farrier service at the veterinary medical teaching hospital has given the clinicians at the CVM another tool for helping their patients.
“Having a full-time farrier on staff has been extremely beneficial” said Carter. “We are able to provide a more consistent and thorough job for clients, as well as a better learning experience for students pursuing their veterinary degrees.”
For more information on the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu.