By American Farriers Journal
The standardized farrier’s test, which was developed by the Shoeing & Hoof Care Committee of the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit, is being met with mixed reactions.
Arcadia, Calif., racetrack farrier Wes Champagne believes that it would be a mistake trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
“I can tell you right now that shoeing horses in one state is not the same as shoeing horses in another,” the farrier who shod American Pharoah en route to the Triple Crown told the Paulick Report. “A horseshoer from back east would have a hard time here on the West Coast. You can shoe a lot shorter on those deeper tracks. And with all the moisture, you would almost have to use a smaller shoe and drive the nails in a different location than we use here [in California].”
Tom Halpenny, who shod 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, sees the merits of standardization.
“When we had the union, the [Journeyman Horseshoers Union], there was a lot of control that way,” Halpenny says. “You had to pass a test to get in, and then you were critiqued by your own people. Nowadays, once you get your license, you’re in. I think it would be a good deal. But it has to be done properly.”
Halpenny would like to see a loophole closed in California allows a farrier to employ helpers who shoe racehorses under that farrier’s license without obtaining their own farrier’s license.
“They'll go on for years before they even take the test,” he says, “and they only take the test so they can go out and work on their own.”
Standardization would be the solution toward ensuring better shoeing, says longtime farrier Ray Amato.
“There is such bad shoeing going on with Thoroughbred horses,” he says. “The work I see is disgusting, terrible. They don't know angles; they don't know how to get the foot level; they don't know what they're looking at when they look at a hoof. It's crazy. There are only about five good horseshoers in New York, but I see a lot of bad work.”