The following is a press release from the farrier program at Olds College in Alberta, Canada:
Responding to industry demand, Olds College will be changing its already acclaimed one-year Farrier program to a two-year program in October of 2010.
The college’s new Farrier Science diploma will see students emerging with increased knowledge of equine anatomy, horse handling and horse husbandry. As well, emphasis will be increased on welding, basic blacksmithing and advanced corrective and therapeutic horseshoeing. In keeping with the college’s emphasis on real-life, hands-on learning, program completion will now require a total of 8 months of Directed Field Study, split into five-month and three-month sections respectively.
Mark Hobby, President of the Western Canadian Farriers Association, believes that new farriers today need more training than can currently be found on the continent. “Olds College is to be commended for its current one-year program. It is the best in North America by far,” says Hobby. “It is still not long enough, however. The proposed two year program is essential if we are going to be fair to equines, owners and students.” Hobby adds that Europe, generally considered to hold farriers to a higher standard, requires four years of training for farriers and requires them to be licensed by law.
Traditionally, the number of applicants for the Olds College program has exceeded its capacity, which caps at 16 students. Existing familiarity with the farrier profession and horse and tool handling are just some of the areas of competency students will need to demonstrate prior to acceptance into the program.
“Olds College already graduates some of the best farriers in North America but today’s industry needs them to be even better,” says Dean Sinclair, Olds College Farrier Science Coordinator. “Horses now represent a significant financial investment for most owners and there is also a heightened awareness of animal welfare and how it is achieved. This program will set a new standard and we are quite proud of it.”
Sinclair’s sentiments are echoed by the American Farrier’s Association (AFA). “All too often, farriers don’t survive their initial entrance into our profession because they arrive ill-prepared for success,” says AFA President Richard Fanguy. “By providing students with ample opportunity for both classroom instruction and practical experience, Olds College is helping to provide stability and professionalism within our industry.”
(end of press release)
Editor's note: Mark Hobby was probably misquoted in this press release. He may have been referring to the mandatory four-year farrier training program in Great Britain, which ends in an examination, rather than all of Europe. In other countries in Europe, the qualifications and education for farriers vary widely from formal to informal to non-existent although efforts by the EFFA hope to make standardized farrier training a reality across Europe in the future. Note that trimming and soft-shoeing (boots and non-steel shoes) do not require training or registration in most countries, but farriery (defined by the application of steel shoes) often is a regulated trade with a lengthy mandatory apprenticeship.