The American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) draft of its Model Veterinary Practice Act (MVPA) is intended to be a model of guiding principles to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public and animals. Yet, even the best of intentions can result in unforeseen consequences.

American Farriers Journal believes that the proposed elimination of the farrier exemption could have a profoundly adverse effect on not only the farrier industry, but also equine veterinarians, horse owners and, most importantly, the horse.

An Extraordinary Statement

The AMVA maintains that the rationale for removing the exemption “is in no way an attempt to ban farriers from working independently or require a veterinarian to be involved in shoeing a horse. Rather, it is an acknowledgment that farriery exists well outside of the definition of veterinary medicine and does not need to be included in the MVPA.”

This is an extraordinary statement. Time and again, the industry has demonstrated its knowledge and expertise in the art and science of farriery. It’s deserving of respect for its specialty — providing the best possible care for the equine foot. Yet, those outside of the horse world are unaware of a farrier’s significance. Since the MVPA is intended to be “a model of guiding principles for those who are … preparing or revising a practice act under the codes and laws of an individual state,” it’s incumbent upon the AVMA to be transparent.

Throughout the MVPA, commentary is provided to explain the AVMA’s rationale for various decisions, inclusions and deletions. Since much of the AVMA’s definition for practicing veterinary medicine can be applied to the tasks performed by farriers, the legal interpretation for the deletion of the farrier exemption could be easily misinterpreted if the MVPA remains written in its current form.

Shane Westman, the University of California, Davis, farrier, expresses it well. “If a farrier appropriately trims and places a heart-bar shoe on a horse with chronic laminitis, could it not be seen as treatment or correction to alleviate pain and correct deformity? Each time a farrier assesses a horse before the appointment, could that be defined as determining the health, fitness or soundness of the animal?”

Our Recommendation

American Farriers Journal respectfully requests that the AVMA include the very words written by Dr. Warren Hess, the AVMA’s assistant director of the Division of Animal and Public Health, in the MVPA’s text: “The work of farriers is well-established and, therefore, it isn’t necessary to explicitly exempt them from the MVPA.”

If the AVMA truly subscribes to the premise that the art and science of farriery are outside the realm of veterinary medicine, the choice is clear.  

Editor's Note: On behalf of the farrier industry, American Farriers Journal has submitted this statement to the AVMA during its open comment period. To submit a comment to the AVMA before the Sunday, March 25, 2018, deadline, visit or email your comment to