Do you know what it means to be a Certified Farrier? How many levels of certification are there? Do you think it’s important to be certified?

There are so many misconceptions when it comes the topic of certification that it’s hard for anyone to understand what each of them entail. There are great organizations that run a tight ship with a rigorous testing system. As with anything in life, the opposite can be true. There are organizations that, in my opinion, weaken the entire system for everyone.

For example, I have heard several times of a farrier who got his dog to be a “Certified Farrier” by paying member dues and sending in the right information. While that isn’t fact-checked, it’s a scary thought. How is the general public supposed to know the difference between a good or bad association, simply by the CF, CJF, etc. after a farrier’s name?

In England, the government has such strict regulations on farriery that it is illegal to shoe any horse without proper certification, including your own horse! The required qualifications include a 4-year apprenticeship and passing a test to obtain a diploma. They have a testing system that has been around since 1356! For an American farrier to work at all in England, he or she must be a Certified Journeyman Farrier in the American Farriers Association.

In the American Farriers Association, there are several levels of Certification:

Farrier, Certified Farrier, Certified Tradesman Farrier, and Certified Journeyman Farrier. All tests require you pass a written exam, forging exam, and a live horse shoeing exam. After getting your CJF, you can achieve different specialty endorsements, including (TE) Therapeutic, (EE) Educational, and (FE) Forging.

Regulation hasn’t happened in America yet. Some say it will, some say it never will. I’m not sure which way is better. It’s kind of like the Wild West the way it is now; you can buy some tools call yourself a farrier, do it for 10 years without any education, and then you can advertise you’ve had 10 years experience! With that said, I know some farriers who don’t have any certifications and do a good job.

I believe some sort of regulation would be nice for the horse owner when they’re shopping for a farrier. Having a baseline and a system to rely on would benefit the equine industry in general. Involving the government and politics into the farrier industry is also a scary thought, which would most likely be the majority of farrier’s concern.

I’ve seen good and bad shoeing done by Certified Journeyman Farriers; as with anything done by humans, there will always be human error. Quality control is something you must decide to uphold daily, no matter what industry you are in. That alone is most likely the reason many industries require continuing education. A good example of this would be truck drivers. I’m sure we have all seen a bad truck driver before, but I think we could all agree that it doesn’t mean that we need throw out the CDL system.

So the next time you are checking out a certified farrier, do your homework, find out which level, which association, and what their requirements are for obtaining certification.

God Bless America

This article first appeared in the Dally Times- The Magazine for Team Ropers.