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I have done a lot of thinking over the last few years about the relationship between competition shoeing and the American Farrier’s Association (AFA) certification program.
To the outsider, these may seem like altogether separate issues, but they have a lot in common. In competition, the work a farrier does in a high-stress situation is evaluated. The same thing happens during certification testing.
At most certifications only a small percentage of candidates pass. It is easy to look at that fact and want to declare war on examiners and testers, but the fact is that the vast majority of the work done at certifications is not done to the minimum standard required.
The responsibility for this low rate of success rests primarily with the people taking the test — not the ones who grade them.
We all know that the work presented by the candidates at the exam is not necessarily a good representation of the work that the person is capable of. It comes down to how well a farrier can perform under stress and play the mental game that’s a part of that performance.
There are instances — including some I have personally witnessed — in which the conduct of the powers that be is questionable and personal preferences of renegade testers or examiners taint the scoring. But I have come to believe that these instances are less common than we might think.
It’s akin to quicking a horse while shoeing in a small town…