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Listen to the conversations. Visit the online message boards. Read the horse publications. There is a lot of discontent and disagreement in the hoof-care world. Frustration, confusion and even anger ring loud and clear in the debates about shoeing methods, farrier licensing, incompetent shoers, low-ball pricing and a lack of respect from horseowners for “iron hangers.”
The debates rage between farriers and veterinarians, farriers and horseowners, farriers and farriers. Maybe this kind of turmoil should be expected in an industry with no clear-cut, widely sanctioned performance standards and hoof-care guidelines. At the risk of overstating the case, all decisions about hoof-care are subjective when there are no “rules,” and one person’s opinion is as valid as the next.
This is not to dismiss the efforts of the numerous farrier associations to address these issues. Their certification programs and sharing of information deserve thanks and praise.
The fact is, however, that only about 15 percent of the shoers in the United States, perhaps fewer, belong to a professional organization. The division of this 15 percent among the different associations creates further fragmentation of the farrier population.
With 85 percent of farriers not in any association, the great majority of farriers are out of the loop. They go about their day-to-day shoeing business as best they can, relying on the same methods they were originally taught, and perhaps turning to a small, informal network of other shoers for advice. And maybe a local shoeing clinic now and then.