Who Learns the Most - the Apprentice? Or the Mentor?

was really impressed at this year’s 10th annual International Hoof-Care Summit to see the growing number of farriers who brought their young apprentices to this mid-winter event. It indicates the increased emphasis being placed on the value of continuing farrier education and also demonstrates the fact that the footcare business is once again picking up steam.

Data from last fall’s 2012 Farrier Business Practices Survey conducted among American Farriers Journal readers indicates 62% of today’s full-time farriers served an apprenticeship. The typical apprenticeship lasted 22 months before the farrier went out on his or her own.

Among part-time shoers, 60% served a typical 18-month apprenticeship.

But apprenticeships aren’t the end of the learning experience. Many farriers continue to ride a day or more per month with their mentors or other successful hoof-care professionals to further expand their footcare knowledge.

Learning Flows Both Ways

While mentors gain from the teaching experience and apprentices gain from learning, the reverse can also be true. A successful one-on-one mentor/apprenticeship program should not only be about giving, but receiving as well.

Both parties can gain a great deal when they make a full commitment to this in-the-field learning experience.

Many veteran farriers see taking on apprentices as a way of giving back to an industry that has treated them very well over the years. In fact, many farriers like to share the footcare ideas they’ve learned the hard way over the years so younger farriers can avoid making the same mistakes. This is an…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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