One of North America's innovative multi-farrier practices has just announced an unusual program for farriers seeking to build a career in professional farriery. Forging Ahead in Round Hill, Virginia is a partnership of several leading farriers who are responsible for the hoofcare of many of the top sport horses in the USA. Forging Ahead also operates a busy haul-in farrier clinic and provides the farrier services at Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in nearby Leesburg, Virginia, where the farriers participate in research and treatment programs at the hospital.
The new program is described as an "internship". Two interns per year will be selected from applicants. Interns will be paid and housing will be provided. While Forging Ahead has offered apprenticeships in the past, and trained many top farriers from the beginner level, this program is designed for farriers who have already attained a level of competence and wish to be exposed to a huge caseload of sport-horse and lameness work.
Forging Ahead is currently headed by Paul Goodness, one of the leading behind-the-scenes masterminds of Hoofcare and Lameness Journal (it's not his fault when it's late) and a highly respected, though somewhat reclusive expert in high-tech farriery and lameness mechanics. Paul is also active in product development in the farrier industry and received the CJF designation from the American Farrier's Association.
Senior partner with Paul is sport-horse specialist Randy Pawlak; current full-time farriers are Matt Hatcher, Scott Sellers, Amy Sidwar, and Zeb Foltz. The practice has long-time affiliations with horses and riders representing the USET, and other nations' teams; Paul was USET's official farrier in the 1990s and the firm's resume is outstanding for work in both competition horse and veterinary work. He's the only American farrier ever to win the "Best Shod Horse" Award when his work was judged against top British farriers at the Badminton Horse Trials in England.
Paul is a graduate of the unique but now defunct New Bolton Center (University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine) advanced farrier residency program that flourished in the 1980s and produced many of the East Coast's leading farriers, including Rob Sigafoos. The program ended 20 years ago, but there has been talk in several circles recently about the value of such a program.
Cornell vet school's informal program with Michael Wildenstein also offers farriers advanced specialized training on an intensive on-the-job level with a full load of cases, but farriers are not paid or housed while they learn at Cornell and the program is currently not offered on a long-term basis, although Cornell may have plans that have not been announced yet (scroll down for news from the Cornell program).
Forging Ahead will be looking for motivated, focused farriers with preference given to farriers who have experience with horses as well as with shoeing. There has been a void in advanced farrier education opportunities for years, and this program certainly can't fill it alone. The hope is that other group practices or solo senior farriers will begin similar programs so that legitimate speciality training can be a reality for those who seek it. Eventually, college credit may be possible, but this is a working, "hands on" program rather than an academic or research pursuit.
Forging Ahead has published a summary of their program description and application form at http://www.forgingaheadva.blogspot.com/
Please contact Amy Sidwar at Forging Ahead for more information. And please leave comments here to share your opinions about how farriers should or could receive advanced training. Just click on the word "comments" to open a box and leave your message. You may leave the message anonymously or sign your name.
This is a tremendous opportunity. Thanks to Forging Ahead for living up to their name, once again!
Photo of Paul Goodness in a low-tech, traditional environment courtesy of Forging Ahead.