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When paging through farriery texts that are more than a century old, readers will note that much of the knowledge that’s contained within is not so different than what is taught today.
The observations and philosophies have been passed from one generation of farriers to the next. Although much of it works, the understanding of why it works can be elusive in some cases.
“We seem to know what we’re doing shoeing horses, but we don’t know why we’re doing it,” says Stephen Newman, a Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Farriers and an examiner with the Farrier Registration Council in Great Britain. “The more research and scientific data we can put behind what we do, then obviously it’s a tick in the box to make sure we’re doing the job properly.”
The Royal Veterinary College in London, England, launched a graduate diploma in equine locomotor research in 2016 for United Kingdom-based farriers. The college is expanding that program to the United States in 2018 through a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. (Read more about the RVC research program on Page 69.)
The American Farrier’s Association (AFA) also is spearheading a program to encourage farrier research by sponsoring clinics around the country that detail the scientific method, how to find and read scientific papers, and provide insight into conducting scientific research. As part of the effort, the AFA Research Committee has launched a grant program to pay for equine foot research carried out by farriers.