Gerard Laverty AWCF, right, observes one of his farrier students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University outside Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. In November Laverty became the first Canadian to receive an advanced qualification from the Worshipful Company of Farriers. Ten out of eleven of his current students are women. (Photo credit: Canada.com)
In November, Kwantlen Polytechnic University farrier faculty member Gerard Laverty became the only farrier in Canada, and joined a handful of farriers in North America, to officially receive an elite designation as an Associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (WCF) of London, England.
A native of Northern Ireland, Gerard has represented Canada in international farrier competition. He previously earned the journeyman and therapeutic endorsement certification levels through the American Farrier's Association.
"I didn't know what I was getting into," Gerard said recently. "The AW (examination) requires a horse to be shod with therapeutic shoes and you produce a specimen shoe. It's more modern than the AFA's TE test. You have an hour to repair a hoof crack, or open an abscess, or do a resection. They tell you which to do. And for the specimen, they give you three pages of shoes that you might be asked to make."
He had to take the practical test twice, making four long trips from Vancouver to London. Before taking the test, he spent time working in Scotland with Allan Ferrie FWCF for coaching, and with Gary Darlow in England.
His individual test called for him to shoe the front end of a horse with a pair of straight bar shoes. The frog could not touch the bar when the foot was loaded and the solar border had to be relieved.
For the modern materials portion, he had to create a toe extension and work on a quarter crack. Glue-on shoes such as the Imprint thermoplastic shoes are allowed, as is Vettec's Equithane. Part of that test involved determining if the horse was sound. "You have to take the horse out and judge if its sound or lame. You have to declare it. That after you declare it, the judges trot it to see what they think of your evaluation."
The Associate level is designed to test a farrier's ability to do referral and/or therapeutic work. In the paper "So You Want to Be An Associate", Simon Curtis FWCF writes: "They are looking for you to convince them that you have a depth of knowledge of anatomy, conditions and diseases of the foot, and how conformation affects the gait and the foot, and vice versa. You need to show traditional forging skills and be able to apply them to an individual horse. You need to show a range of shoemaking skills in different materials including fabricating.
"They are assessing your ability to think on your feet when confronted with a task that you might not have experienced. You need to be able to use and have an opinion on the modern materials listed. You need to be comfortable looking at x-rays and assessing a horse with a veterinary surgeon.
"The above list of skills is quite wide ranging. However, it is only what one would expect a farrier engaged in remedial or consultancy shoeing to possess. The veterinary examiner is looking to see if you could partner him in treating farriery related conditions. The farrier examiners are looking to see whether they could refer a case to you."
Laverty takes great pride in teaching students farrier skills at Kwantlen's nine-month course. He joined Kwantlen in 2003, bringing with him 30 years of industry experience and added his name to the impressive list of faculty at Kwantlen that has included Hank McEwen and the late Cindy Dawn Elstrom.
Gerard’s career began with a three-year apprenticeship in Dublin, Ireland, with the Irish Horse Board. He graduated with a gold medal in both theory and practical skills. Gerard moved to the U.S. in 1981, then immigrated to Canada and began a business in Prince George, British Columbia.
The Worshipful Company of Farriers offers one examination above the Associate, called the Fellowship (FWCF), which is the highest qualification from the company and perhaps the most difficult farrier examination in the world. Farriers with this qualification have the highest level of farrier knowledge and skills, and must be able to present their knowledge to an audience in a lecture or paper form similar to a masters thesis.
For more information about the Kwantlen farrier program, please visit: kwantlen.ca/trades . You can also email Gerard Laverty or call him at 604.599.6177.
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