Last month I finally began the process of getting my CJF. The test for the Journeyman is comprised of three parts, each scored to an exacting standard. A written test, a forging component where I build a fullered barshoe to fit a pattern in 35 minutes, and a shoeing portion in which I will shoe a horse with a full set of handmades in 2 hours or less.
Each candidate for certification comes to the test in a different way and timing. For me, it has been a long time in coming. I had meant to take this test shortly after passing my Certified exam in 2010 however I allowed myself to get busy and not take it. While certifications are not required here in the US, they are a great way of testing knowledge and proving skill. Here at Dixie’s we have been and always will be committed to continuing education and the best quality work we can provide. By getting my CJF, it will be one more way to test my skill but will also be the gateway to higher certifications and more opportunities for learning and teaching.
When I took my Certified exam several years ago I started by taking the written test which meant I then had a two year timeline to complete the other two parts of the test (shoe display and shoeing the front of a horse). This time I decided to start by going to a certification prep clinic in Tennessee so I could see what I needed to work on and to hone my skills. The clinic was two days of hands on learning both at the anvil and under the horse.
I have been building and applying handmade shoes my entire career so that part is nothing new. The larger challenge for me will be refining a few techniques to be more efficient and getting over the issue of being timed. For whatever reason, like many, I struggle with being put on the clock during a test and either end up rushing and making mistakes/breaking tools or my perfectionist side comes out and I spend too much time trying to make everything perfect. While I did pick up some good tricks, the most helpful part of the clinic was found in the instructors helping me to slow down and in giving me the confidence that I can pass the test.
Moving forward I will be continuing to practice timing myself building shoes and hopefully making a couple practice runs on horses. There will also be a fair amount of reading and studying as the written test is fairly comprehensive. I am planning to take at least the written test, if not the whole thing before the end of June with a goal of having my CJF by the end of the year.