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In memory of farrier Paul Goodness: An enduring legacy

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Paul Goodness, a humble, kind man with an instinct for treating horses with chronic hoof conditions, died July 21, 2020, at the age of 62.

A Certified Journeyman Farrier with the American Farrier’s Association (AFA), Goodness served as the official U.S. Equestrian Team farrier between 1992 and 1996, culminating his service at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

As a child, Goodness watched intently as visiting farriers worked on his family’s horses, leading him at a very early age to develop his interest in becoming a farrier. Straight out of high school, he attended farrier school, completing a six-month course that taught basic anatomy, hoof pathology, forge experience, and appropriate horse-handling techniques.

After a one-year apprenticeship with an expert farrier in Pennsylvania, Goodness began his formal training at Eastern States Farrier School in New York, closely followed by a second apprenticeship. Among a large pool of applicants, he was selected for a position in a farrier internship program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, which provided him with a comprehensive understanding of anatomy and introduced him to specialized shoeing techniques. Following the internship’s completion, Goodness moved to Loudoun County, Virginia, and developed a highly successful sport horse and corrective shoeing practice.

In 1990, Goodness founded the area’s first group farrier practice and referral therapeutic farrier clinic with a partner. Their facility quickly became a mecca for challenging podiatry cases as owners throughout the East Coast shipped horses to him.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Goodness collaborated on a part-time basis with faculty at the Equine Medical Center (EMC) to shoe and treat horses with chronic foot issues. A perfectionist in every sense of the word, he was always committed to learning and progressing via close collaboration with his colleagues at the EMC. “Paul was an absolute pleasure to work with: an innovative thinker and incredible professional who was completely dedicated to his craft,” said EMC Director and Jean Ellen Shehan Professor Michael Erskine.

Always embracing new technology and ideas, Goodness willingly shared his knowledge with others. As a result, a unique synergy existed with Goodness, EMC clinicians, and the center’s advanced imaging technology, which enabled a comprehensive team to collaborate and treat many horses with chronic lameness issues. “Close collaboration with Paul was one of the highlights of my EMC experience,” Professor Emeritus of Equine Surgery Nathaniel White II said.

For more than 40 years, Goodness quietly served the equine community. Known for his humble nature, profound work ethic, kindness, and commitment to his craft, he was highly regarded by the equine community and his staff. “He was an amazing mentor,” said farrier Amy Sidwar-Seaver of her many years working closely with Goodness. “Paul taught me so much about how to approach shoeing and helping horses. And over all the years we worked together, he also showed me what it looks like to be a good parent, partner, and friend.”

Throughout his career, Goodness worked on many of the world’s highest-level athletes and on countless family ponies, each receiving the same attention to detail, regardless of their job or breeding. His goal was always to make them comfortable and to enable them to do whatever was asked of them. Goodness was often the last hope for many horses, and his skills allowed so many of them another chance at a normal life, often despite devastating, life-threatening hoof conditions.

In 2016, Goodness embraced the opportunity to become part of EMC’s vision for a comprehensive podiatry service in collaboration with the sports medicine and rehabilitation teams. In turn, the EMC farrier shop was upgraded and expanded, and services offered by Goodness Farrier Associates, LLC, were made available to EMC clients daily.

Goodness’ reputation for exceptional results on difficult therapeutic cases, coupled with access to high-level imaging technology and EMC clinician expertise, allowed his team to perform much-needed equine podiatry research and to expand and refine its already impressive catalogue of podiatry treatments.

“Paul was a genius at corrective shoeing for performance horses. Paul and I also worked very closely on some of the hardest cases: providing support to horses with dropped fetlocks, and supporting and realigning the coffin bone in horses with chronic laminitis. Not only was he incredibly skilled, but he was the warmest and most thoughtful of friends. I miss him terribly,” said Theodora Ayer Randolph Professor of Equine Surgery Jennifer Barrett.

Along with providing world-class care, Goodness helped countless professional farriers hone their craft under his watchful eye. A former pupil, Travis Burns, associate professor of practice and chief of Farrier Services at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, said, “Paul Goodness was the single biggest influence in my career. He was the perfect mentor and willingly shared his knowledge and experiences. His outlook on life, however, had an even bigger impact on me.

“Professionally, he demonstrated the importance of always being hopeful and willing to work on any case, regardless of the prognosis. In teaching others, he would focus on the positive, rather than mistakes. Personally, he taught me that family was always first and that taking care of the mind and soul is the key to happiness.”

In lieu of flowers, three foundations have been chosen by the Goodness family to receive donations in honor of Goodness’ work and contributions to the horse community:

Podiatry Center Fund 876306
Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center
17690 Old Waterford Road
Leesburg, VA 20176

Gifts made to the EMC in honor of Paul Goodness will be used to advance the center’s practice and study of therapeutic podiatry.

Farrier Internship Program: Equine Podiatry Service 874683
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
215 Duck Pond Drive, Suite 2002L
Blacksburg, VA 24061

» To give to either of these funds online, go here.

The Farrier Research Fund
University of Pennsylvania Department of Clinical Studies
New Bolton Center
382 W. Street Road
Kennett Square, PA 19348

» To give to this fund online, go here.

Video by Sharon Peart, EMC, Virginia Tech