Continuing Education: The Farrier’s Lifeline

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 is 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 school system. Actually, many farriers have learned from a blend of both. Each has their 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 narrow ranges of shoeing types, so this narrows the viewpoint of the apprentice. Other breeds or uses of horses are left out of the picture.

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 horse found in a given area, which may not be the same types of…

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Steve kraus 2

Steve Kraus

Steve Kraus, CJF, is Cornell University’s head of farrier services and senior lecturer for large animal surgery. He has been a farrier for more than 45 years.

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