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The definition of continuing education is as it reads — there’s no mystery there. Farriery is a lifelong endeavor, but sadly there are many farriers who believe that once they can trim or nail a shoe on a horse, they are done learning. Nothing could be further from the truth. Trimming a hoof, shaping a shoe and nailing it on are just the beginning. Only then are you ready to really start learning.
Let’s go back and discuss how one starts learning to become a farrier. The two methods that are most commonly used are the apprentice system and the formal farrier school system. Actually, many farriers have learned from a blend of both. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
The apprentice system provides a lot of hands-on, practical on-the-job experience. Unfortunately, experienced farriers who take on apprentices are in business, so their first priority is to teach their apprentice to become helpful. This usually means pulling shoes, clinching/finishing and doing non-critical work. Seldom is trimming, fitting or nailing done on clients’ horses.
Another weak point of apprenticeships is that the senior farrier usually performs very specific ranges of shoeing work, so this narrows the viewpoint of the apprentice. Other breeds or uses of horses are left out of the picture.
Farrier schools also have their weaknesses. Often the duration of the course is too short to develop real competency. Some schools only focus on the type of horses found in a given area, which may not be the same…