There is no licensing requirements for farriers within the United States and Canada; however, several trade organizations offer voluntary farrier certifications that can give you peace of mind that you are working with a reputable professional. All certifications include written testing on topics including hoof trimming, horseshoe application and everyday hoof care as well as mastery of hands on forging skills.
The Brotherhood of Working Farriers Certification
The Brotherhood of Working Farriers Association (BWFA) is the oldest non-profit farrier organization in the country. Certification is offered through their Master Educator Schools and private BWFA Testers across the United States. BWFA has four certification levels.
BWFA Apprentice II Certification: Any farrier who completes a six-week class with a reputable school is eligible. Testing includes a written exam, hands on shoeing test and a forging test during which applicants must create a simple machine-made shoe.
BWFA Journeyman I Certification: In addition to more difficult written and shoeing exams; applicants must forge several types of hand-made shoes and perform several shoe modifications as instructed. This certification in open to farriers with at least one year of experience.
BWFA Journeyman II Certification: Farriers must have at least three years of experience and currently work at least part-time at the trade. The written test is more technically challenging. Applicants at this level must also produce a specified corrective shoe and several others.
BWFA Master Farrier Certification: This highest level of BWFA certification and is reserved for professionals with no less than seven years of experience who are currently working full-time at the trade. This certification requires both a written and forging test. In addition, live hand-made shoeing is required for types and breeds of horses chosen by the tester.
American Farrier Association Certification
The American Farriers Association (AFA) is one of the primary certifying organizations in the United States. For 30 years, the AFA has provided a certification program that entails a blend of standardized testing and hands-on application. There are four main categories of certification provided by AFA:
AFA Farrier Classification: An entry level certification that includes both written and practical exams on the basics of the skill.
Certified Farrier (AFA CF): Certification is open to any farrier with at least one year of experience. He or she must pass both the written and practical exams as well as prepare and explain a display of horseshoes.
Certified Tradesman Farrier (AFA CTF): In addition to the above tests, applicants must demonstrate skills at properly fitting a hand-made shoe during a timed test. This certification is available to professionals with at least two years of experience and have completed AFA CF.
Certified Journeyman Farrier (AFA CJF): This most technical certification is open to professionals with two years of experience who complete the CF certification and demonstrate ability to forge and fit a corrective shoe within a time limit.
The Guild of Professional Farriers Registration
The Guild of Professional Farriers is the third organization to offer a certification process for farriers. Less developed than the groups mentioned above, the Guild provides “registration” at three levels.
Registered Farrier: This registration is offered to professional farriers with at least three years of experience. It requires a written test and shoeing exam, including presentation of a shoe display.
Registered Journeyman: Farriers must have at least four years of experience, currently be working full-time at the trade and have previously passed farrier registration. In addition to a written and forging exam, the applicant must perform live shoeing.
Full Time Farrier: This registration does not require examination, but is only open to farriers who can verify that at least 70% of their annual income comes from the trade.