Pictured Above: Steve Sermersheim (left) and Diego Almeida (center) are recognized at the 2014 International Hoof-Care Summit by American Farriers Journal Editor Frank Lessiter.

Aiming to improve its equine footcare education, the University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine is acquiring MiddleFork Forge and Midwest Horseshoeing School.

The farrier practice, which will be renamed Middlefork Forge at Illinois, will begin shoeing horses at the Urbana-Champaign, Ill.-based university Feb. 17, according to the U of I College of Veterinary Medicine. Farrier services will be offered Monday-Thursday throughout west-central Indiana and east-central Illinois, while spending Fridays at the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Steve Sermersheim, owner of MiddleFork Forge and co-owned Midwest Horseshoeing School with Diego Almeida, will join the College of Veterinary Medicine faculty. Almeida will continue to manage instruction for the school as a program coordinator with the college’s Office of Public Engagement. The college also will retain MiddleFork Forge apprentices Ian Zollers and Jessica Byrne.

“This transition will ensure an exceptional learning experience,” Sermersheim says, “whether you are a horse owner learning how to care for your own animals or someone preparing to join the farrier profession.”

The addition of the farrier service and the shoeing school will be an exceptional educational experience, says equine veterinarian Scott Austin, who heads the Equine Medicine and Surgery Section at the hospital.

“Advanced therapeutic shoeing will complement the exceptional medical and surgical lameness services already available to equine patients at the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital,” he says. “In addition, the Midwest Horseshoeing School will provide fourth-year veterinary students with opportunities to deliver routine horse health care when requested by horse owners. Performing wellness examinations gives students valuable experience to complement their involvement with providing specialized care for our hospital’s ill and injured equine patients.”

The farrier school, which will continue operating at its Divernon, Ill., location, includes courses that range from 2- and 4-week classes for horse owners, as well as a 20-week course for those preparing for a career in farriery.

“Our rigorous educational program for farriers will gain exposure and prestige through affiliation with the University of Illinois,” Almeida says. “We are currently enrolling students in courses that will begin on Feb. 27.”

Sermersheim, who has been a farrier for nearly 30 years, is an AFA certified journeyman farrier with a therapeutic endorsement. He’s an associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers and is a two-time AFA Clinician of the Year. He’s also an eight-time official farrier at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event and a supervisor for the official farriers at the World Equestrian Games.

Almeida also is a certified journeyman farrier who was recognized as the Rising Shoeing Star at the 2014 International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. He received the AFA’s educator of the year award in 2015 and also has been nominated for the 2016 award, which will be presented in March at the annual AFA Convention in Arlington, Texas.

Zollers and Byrne are AFA certified farriers.