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Saturday, March 03, 2007

American Farrier's Association Forges into a New Era

Greetings from the 36th Annual American Farrier's Association in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A sizeable group of farriers, estimated at 600 or so, has gathered here for educational and business enrichment under the southwestern skies. A heart-warming number of veteran AFA members and old friends are in the crowd, and the trade show is packed with (as usual) with a lot of new products and new companies, as well as the stalwarts of the industry.

The big news so far in the convention has been the vote in the Board of Directors meeting to re-organize the AFA's governance system. The decision making team is currently made up of a slate of officers elected by dues-paying members. They in turn answer to a large board of directors representing 60 or so chapter associations, which are made up of farriers who may or may not be dues-paying AFA members.

On Tuesday this week, the Board voted to replace itself with a team of regional representatives elected by dues-paying AFA members. The chapters will no longer each send a representative to vote on AFA affairs, and the new board members and officers will act as a governing body. I believe that the new system will be put in place by 2008.

In other news, AFA President Dave Ferguson continues to lead the association. Support from the office staff is headed by the new education director, John Bonci.

The education program at the convention was much stronger than I think many attendees expected. The lectures were very well attended. Lecturers included Gene Ovnicek, Bob Racich DVM, Steve Teichman, Mark Caldwell FWCF, Noel Muller DVM, and many more.

The most controversial issue at the convention seems to be the takeover of the AFA competitions by the group known as World Championship Blacksmiths. This group plans to run a regional series of farriers competitions and would host a national championship at the AFA convention. The sides drawn up on this issue are unusual. Many people who are not competition supporters think it is a great idea for the AFA to separate itself from the "sport" aspect of the convention and concentrate on education. Others worry that the AFA is giving away a potential profit center. Still others base their opinions on personalities involved. I believe that the Board endorsed the WCB management plan in spirit but sent it to committee for more study, so this may be an ongoing story.

The Albuquerque Tribune has a nice article about the convention at this url:

And a clip of video from the competition at this url:

The AFA next heads to Lexington, Kentucky for its 2008 convention in February of next year.

Thanks to everyone who visited the Hoofcare & Lameness booth to renew their subscriptions, order books, or just to say hello. I enjoyed seeing everyone very much. It was also very gratifying to hear people mention that they check this blog often and enjoy reading it. That's great news!

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