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Monday, September 29, 2008

Friends at Work: "Good Hands" Are Part of the Job Description

I always say that farriers are "two-faced". Not dishonesty-wise, but literally. Farriers who have spent their lives on the job usually have great faces enhanced by plenty of laugh lines around their eyes.

But their hands are a second "face" and you can read a lot about them by looking at their hands' creases, their scars, their lumps and bumps and all the old burn scars inside their wrists and sometimes up to the crooks of their elbows.

Pennsylvania farrier Bob Skradzio Sr. has the most interesting hands of anyone I've met and I've even photographed them! His hands were featured for a month on the Hoofcare & Lameness/St. Croix Forge wall calendar about ten years ago, and many people told me that it was one of their favorite of all the photos, even though no horses, no hooves, no shoes, and no tools were in the picture. In a way, all those things were there because you could see what 50 years of shoeing horses had done to his hands.

That's what came to mind on Sunday when I read the article in Sunday's Augusta Chronicle about Mark Berchtold, a farrier in Aiken, South Carolina. It's a nice article, to be sure, but my eye went to the photo of Mark's hands cradling a hoof, shown above. I'm sure most would be checking the position or fit of the shoe but I was looking at Mark's hands.

In the article, Mark admits that he broke his left hand twice and his right hand three times and lost part of his thumb. And right now he's having a knuckle problem.

The newspaper did a nice article about Mark, and there's a little slide show, too.

Two of my favorite faces, four of my favorite hands: lifetime veteran farriers Bob Skradzio, Sr. of Pennsylvania and Joe Kriz, Sr. of Connecticut. Both have sons (by the same names) who are farriers.

© 2008 Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. All images and text protected to full extent of law. Permissions for use in other media or elsewhere on the web can be easily arranged. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog's web page or received via a daily email through an automated delivery service. An RSS feed is also available. To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness, please visit our main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

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4 comments:

PNB said...

Fran,

There is no need to have crabby looking hands today. Several years ago I found a product that gave your hands at least semblence of normality.

The product comes from Paris, France via the internet and pay pal!!

Made by ROC Division of Johnson and Johnson Consumer France, [also in Montreal, HIN 2G4].

Name, Dermatologic, ENYDRIAL, CREME MAINS.

It isn't cheap but only a tiny amout is needed each day.

PNB.

PNB said...

Fran,

There is no need to have crabby looking hands today. Several years ago I found a product that gave your hands at least semblence of normality.

The product comes from Paris, France via the internet and pay pal!!

Made by ROC Division of Johnson and Johnson Consumer France, [also in Montreal, HIN 2G4].

Name, Dermatologic, ENYDRIAL, CREME MAINS.

It isn't cheap but only a tiny amout is needed each day.

PNB.

Fran Jurga said...

Ok, Peter, you know I will be checking out your hands the next time I see you!

Does this stuff also stop horses from stepping on you and hammers from hitting you? If so, I want to order an entire case.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment!

Heidi Meyer said...

When people ask me why I wore gloves to my Aug wedding....I smile and say " Have you SEEN my hands?" We're lucky the swelling in my left ring finger went down enough to avoid an embarrassing "no fit" on the wedding band :)
Without our hands, we truly cannot work.....they swell, crack, callous,
get jammed, slammed, broken, scraped, bruised and frozen. Ask any of us and we can rattle off our favorite brand/seller of gloves (and yes the more expensive ones are awesome....but the life expectancy???) The bare hand on a bare hoof is almost a religious experience, heat, texture, swelling, can all be felt. Human touch on horse.....no substitute.
Here is to the guys and gals that have to wash before they use the bathroom and blessed are the horses that rely on those hands!
Blessed be the bruised and beater.