Did your farrier go to a shoeing school?
Have you ever asked your farrier if he or she has been to a shoeing school? Maybe you’ve wondered if it is important that they went. If so, where did they go? How long did they attend? Are all shoeing schools the same?
When a horse owner is interviewing a prospective farrier, “Did you go to shoeing school?” seems to be the main question. While attending a good school can have a many advantages, there are more important issues to be concerned about.
As with anything, the quality among shoeing schools can greatly vary. There are a lot of good schools out there, but one of my favorites is the Five Star Shoeing School in Minco, OK. Dusty Franklin, owner and manager, is one of the very best farriers in the world. What makes his school special in my opinion is that he is very qualified personally (AWCF, CJF) and maintains a full-time shoeing business with six CJF’s currently working at his shop. Not only that, his course is all business and no playtime, with safe horses to work on and guaranteed small class sizes.
On the other hand there are farrier schools that do the opposite of that. I know of one farrier school that takes around 30 students per 8-12 week course, taught by one main teacher along with 2-3 other teachers who graduated in the previous class. That is dangerous enough, but they award the students with a certificate and tell them they are ready to work for the public.
That might help explain why only of 5% of farriers who went to school are still working after one year, according to the national average.
Instead of asking if your farrier went to school, I recommend asking what they do for continuing education (CE). It doesn’t matter what school you went to or how long you were there. If it’s been over a year, in my opinion you’re overdue for some fresh information. For the same reason, many industries regulate current certifications and require a certain amount of annual CE credit hours.
There are so many affordable ways to further your education as farrier that it leaves no excuses as to why you shouldn’t be improving your skills as often as possible.
Without trying very hard, you can find free videos on nearly any topic, several good books, as well as lots of great clinics worldwide. There are many knowledgeable farriers who would allow you to ride along with them. I suggest finding a way to make their life easier by donating your time and they will pay you back with their knowledge.
Our team at Olsen Equine attends 6-10 educational events per year, which may seem excessive but I promise you it’s not. By going through the American Farriers Association certification process, I learned that it can be very dangerous staying in your own world and avoiding critique. “You don’t know what you don’t know” is a good example of that.
After having my bubble burst on my skill level at certification, I am committed to a lifetime of learning. I believe no one will ever know all there is to know about shoeing horses. That is why I hired Grant Moon to help me and my team three times this year. One of his favorite sayings is, “If you think anything is perfect, you’re not looking hard enough.”
I never went to a shoeing school when I started shoeing, but to a 5-day class much like the 3- and 4-day classes I teach now. They are somewhat controversial, due to the short time frame, but I say life is all about constant injections of new information. It takes time to process and learn new things, and the saying “people process at their own understanding” is so true. Just like when I see the same clinician for a second time, I will learn something new almost every time.
There are many ways to improve your skills as a farrier. If going to shoeing school a long time ago is the only CE you’ve done, you’re most likely not maximizing your potential.
God Bless America,