Farrier Licensing Controversy

Horseshoers (farriers) in the United States have long practiced with no regulation and only voluntary certification, but some in the industry think that should change--soon. An American Farrier's Association (AFA) task force presented a proposal to the AFA Board of Directors in late February on this issue, and that proposal has generated an explosion of controversy.

"Our charge was to evaluate the current status of farrier education in the United States and to look at the issue of farrier licensing or registration," stated an introductory note in the proposal. "These issues have suddenly become critical to the future of farrier work in the United States due to the emergence of legal restrictions on farriers in several states."

The proposal cited as examples veterinary practice acts in Florida and Arizona that state or imply that professional health work (including farriery) on animals is within the realm of veterinary medicine. This opens the door for legal action against farriers providing hoof care without a veterinary license in those states, which understandably has caused concern for farriers throughout the country.

The desire to raise the level of professionalism and practice in farriery is another driving force behind the proposal. "We don't believe licensing is the solution, education is," says Bryan Quinsey, AFA Executive Director. "Licensing just comes with it. This is something that a lot of guys recognize is going to happen one way or another. If (licensing is) going to happen, there needs to be input from the farrier industry."

The AFA will begin its education/licensing initiative with a new task force developing a survey (to be mailed in July) of the 65 or so North American farrier schools to document the facilities and instruction that are currently available. The licensing issue will be evaluated later by a yet-to-be-appointed group.

However, the other two U.S. farrier associations (the Guild of Professional Farriers, GPF, and the Brotherhood of Working Farriers Association), along with many independent farriers, have voiced strong opposition to any licensing plan. Licensing "may seem to be an attractive idea, but in fact I don't think it will do anything to improve quality," says Henry Heymering, AFA Certified Journeyman Farrier and President/Registered Master Farrier of the GPF. "I think people would get a false sense of security from licensing." For more information, see www.TheHorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?id=5816.

To voice your opinions on this issue, e-mail the AFA at info@americanfarriers.org and/or The Horse at letters@TheHorse.com.

TheHorse.com Poll: Is your farrier certified?
Don't know 32.28% (143)
Yes, by the American Farrier's Association 31.83% (141)
No 23.70% (105)
Yes, by another group 7.22% (32)
Yes, by the Brotherhood of Working Farriers Association 2.71% (12)
I don't use a farrier 1.81% (8)
Yes, by the Guild of Professional Farriers 0.45% (2)

About the Author

Christy M. West

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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