For you that are not aware, there is no legal requirement to be a farrier in the United States. In fact, any person can call themselves a farrier and hack away at a horse hoof…even if they have never even seen a horse. How is that for a scary thought?
Of course, there are a number of associations throughout the country that offer voluntary certifications programs, such as the American Farrier Association or the Brotherhood of Working farriers. These certification programs can vary slightly from association to association, but generally you must pass a physical and written test to become certified.
There are a number of certifications available that start with basic entry level to advanced certifications. Keep in mind, these are voluntary.
Not in England it is a completely different story. It is actually illegal to there to provide any farrier skills without being licensed. At first glance, I can get on board with that. I mean after all, it’s a good thing that only trained professionals are providing farrier services right?
It’s the next element that causes me to stop and wonder if it is actually a good idea. Apparently, it is also illegal for a horse owner to trim or shoe their own horse. Again, that does not sound so bad.
There are several horses out there with severe hoof issues because a horse owner decided to hack at their hooves because he or she saw a youtube video.
That being said, there is something that bothers me about being told what I can and cannot do with my own horse. As long as you are proving proper care, and have the right farrier tools, is it really anyone else’s business?
What really caused me to pause and think about the regulation was a shocking news story. Apparently, a farrier in Ebchester County in England was suspended for a month after he allowed his son to remove four shoes from a horse and clean them up.
What is so wrong with a professional teaching his son to remove horseshoes?
Is it so egregious that it warrants taking away a person livelihood for an entire month? Obviously, I do not live in England so maybe there are some things I am missing here, but I cannot help but feeling as that I’m glad there are no regulations like that over here.
As I said earlier, at first glance regulation seems like a good idea. And, I’m still not against the idea of some regulation for farriers, but the steps at which they have gone in England seems ridiculous and contrary to the American spirit. I mean we are all adult (ok most of us are), we groom our own horses, we have our own farrier tool kit, so should we not have the ability to determine who we want to work on our horse’s hooves?
I think it is far more important to educate horse owners about what to look for in a farrier. Instead of using a stick, let’s educate ourselves and select qualified farriers using out knowledge and common sense. The lousy and unqualified farriers will go out of business because no one will use them.
I’m sure that someday we will see increased regulation in this area, but hopefully it will not go to the extremes, such as they have in England, and allow us the freedom to make our own choices.