If you polled our volunteers and asked them what initially drew them to SAFE, the surface level answer would likely be uniform across the board: a love of horses. No shock or surprise there. But digging deeper, the answer would become nuanced between individuals. Some are here because they miss being around horses, having had them in their past. Some come to help with our herd in addition to their own, unable to get enough of these amazing creatures. But a great number come in search of knowledge. What goes in to the care and keeping of horses is substantial, and for a herd of our size, there is so much to be gained simply by being around the day-to-day operations of the barn. Measuring out hay, preparing grain, picking paddocks and cleaning stalls — a small list of volunteer responsibilities that inform horse ownership or simply horse curiosity. But aside from the information gleaned from being here for a weekly chore shift, we are starting 2024 with volunteer education in mind.

Our first educational opportunity of 2024 was a seminar put on by one of our phenomenal farriers, Kenzie Williamson of Island Hoof Care. Kenzie’s presentation, ‘No Hoof No Horse’ was a deep-dive into a subject that many of us only have a cursory understanding of, said right there in the title: hooves. On what turned out to be a beautiful sunny day in January, Kenzie set up an informative and fascinating powerpoint, alongside all sorts of show-and-tell she has collected over the years: bones and cross sections and books and even the bottom half of a preserved limb. Sienna, always such a doll, was there as our living model, demonstrating not only her beautiful mustang feet, but also how to be a perfect patient. The presentation covered all things hoof and hoof care, from basic anatomy (why is a frog called a frog, anyways?) and hoof ailments (thrush! dun dun dun…) to composite shoes and common hoof ‘types.’ So much going on under the ‘hoof’ that was demystified!

We are lucky to have Kenzie as our farrier and also that she was willing to give up time on her Saturday to talk to us about her passion. But it was very much worth it for our volunteers, who had so many positive things to say following the presentation. Who knows, we might get some more hoof care practitioners out of it!