One of the many things I love about this trade is that there is always more to learn. While a person could always assume that they know much while knowing little, this profession has the opportunity for a boundless amount of learning. DFS is built on the foundation of education, this year is no exception. Last year I was able to obtain my therapeutic endorsement (TE) from the American Farriers Association so this year the goal is to take the forging endorsement (FE). The forging endorsement will test my ability to make a variety of shoes to a high standard, write a paper explaining how to make one of those shoes, and make a shoe in a time limit in front of a panel of judges. The ability to handmake specialized shoes is extraordinarily important if we want to do what is best for the horse. Like the TE, the FE will be good preparation for the AWCF which is the next major goal.
There are many ways to pursue further education in the farrier industry: clinics, contests, and certifications are among the most popular. As we choose how to improve ourselves we should, in my opinion, attend a variety of different types of continuing ed. Most of us have a particular interest in one type of continuing ed over others; however, by stepping into areas of learning that are outside our comfort zone, we will become a far better farrier than we otherwise would. For any farrier that is not already committed to pushing through certifications or competitions, the first step is to simply start showing up to every opportunity for hands-on learning that is presented.
In nearly any profession it is easy to become complacent and not improve ourselves, which is no different for farriers. There is a big difference between a farrier that has been shoeing for 30 years and one that has shod for 1 year 30 years in a row. Becoming stagnant in our learning is easy when we are on our own, however it is much easier to progress when we have goals that others are holding us accountable to. Certifications and competions are the two types of CE that are best suited for this, they can however be intimidating to many people who don’t want others to find out what they don’t know. Personally, even though I do make a lot of the shoes I nail on, contests and the forging part of certifications are not my favorite part and certainly not where my talent lies. By continuing to push on through certifications that press the bounds of my ability, it can only serve to make me a better farrier in everyday work.
Ultimately, continuing education is up to each farrier, however as horse owners you can play a role in encouraging your farrier to continue to pursue education as well. First, try to make it easy for them to get away for a clinic. Most farriers don’t want to let clients down and it seems like every time we try to get away that is when something is going to go wrong, many times it feels like it is easier to just not go to that clinic or contest if you know clients are going to be upset you can’t get to them right away. Being supportive of your farrier’s quest for education can go a long way. Ask your farrier what they have been learning or practicing or ask them what the next goal is. By asking questions like this it will show that you are interested in having an educated farrier and that you support them taking the time for education. You could even go as far as paying for the membership dues for a year in the local farriers’ association, or giving a book that is on a farrier reading list, this can be especially beneficial for a young farrier.