Four years ago, farrier and state legislator Jim House successfully changed the Arkansas state veterinary practice act to exempt horseshoeing from the definition of practicing veterinary medicine.

Arkansas is one of nine states that specifically exempt farriery or horseshoeing.  The others are Alaska, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Vermont. If you decide that you wish to challenge the veterinary practice act (VPA) in your state, House has some advice for you.

Team up. One person doesn’t get legislation changed. Include as many groups that will support your effort as possible.

“You need to get anyone who is in the horse business involved,” House advises. “Get yourself a lobbying group. As a legislator, I tell people all the time that if you want to get a hiking trail across your national forest approved, you must include the hikers, horseback trail riders and drivers of 4-wheelers.”

House suggests being as inclusive as possible — the American Horse Council, the Farm Bureau, racetracks, trail riding groups and massage therapists.

“Don’t just go in there as, ‘This is my business and I want the right,’” he says.
“Go in there as, ‘These are the people who use my services and they want it.’”

One group that House would like to include is teeth floaters. Yet, that will prove to be a poison pill.

“Teeth floating is dynamite,” he says. “It blows up everything. The veterinarians don’t want to give that up. They’re going to fight hard not to. It’s a bigger challenge that way.”

Define it. House strongly suggests that a farrier organization broadly define farriery and horseshoeing.

“That’s the biggest thing for me,” he says. “Once horseshoeing is defined, you can sneak it in there to exclude it from the VPA. I want it broader, too. It should cover the barefoot trimmer. They’re OK, too. Include them. They’re not bad guys. They’re good guys.”

It also adds another ally to help lobby legislators to change the VPA.

Lobbying. Equine veterinarians already have a head start with a well-established and well-heeled lobbying organization. Yet, a farrier lobbying group will go a long way toward protecting the trade.

“How do you get legislation passed?” House asks rhetorically. “To get it done, you’ve got to get a lobbying group and you’ve got to know who’s going to be against you. When you play your cards legislatively, you don’t talk about regulating your business. You talk about giving the livestock owner the choice of using whom he wants to use. Emphasize less government and more consumer choice.”