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Training a New Generation of Indigenous Farriers – The Tyee

by ahnationtalk on June 6, 202348 Views

In the Cariboo, students reconnect with ranching traditions and gain employment skills as they learn to care for horses.

Hunter Boston bends over the horse’s back leg, squeezing long-handled nippers. The animal huffs quiet impatience, shifting its weight as Boston peels a thick shaving of keratin from its hoof. Boston’s teacher, Leon Lemieux, drops the horse’s leg to the ground, offering a short break. A minute later, he lifts it again and Boston stoops over, ready to continue the routine equine pedicure that is central to the eternal work of the farrier.

Boston is one of four Indigenous students from the Cariboo Chilcotin participating in a unique hands-on introduction to farrier training. Coordinated by the Cariboo Chilcotin Aboriginal Training Education Network and led by professional farrier Tom Alphonse and a team of experienced horsemen, the two-week pilot program teaches students skills that have been passed down for centuries, wherever humans and horses have worked together.

Today is the second-last day of the course. The class has travelled to Bear Valley Ranch near Quesnel, where a hot, dusty corral full of horses will be their classroom. It’s an opportunity to put their new hoof trimming skills to work, under the guidance of a team of experienced instructors in a real-world scenario.

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