Friday, November 19, 2010

Olds College Fills First Two-Year Farrier Degree Program

New students in the classroom at Olds College in Alberta, Canada last week. They'll be together for two years in the new program.
They said it couldn't be done. They said farrier students demanded short courses. They said that farrier schools should emulate the barefoot trimming training programs that compete with them with home schooling and weekend or weeklong on-site formal programs peppered through the program. They said students these days don't want to work as hard as you have to to become a good farrier.

They said Olds College would never fill the new two-year degree program for professional farrier training when they announced it last year. Not in this economy.

But they did. Students sat down at their desks for the first day of classes in a filled-to-capacity program at the Alberta, Canada campus last month.

A horseshoe is one big learning curve for a student farrier. Photos by Thowra_UK via Flickr. Thanks!

“Olds College was already commended by the equine industry for its one-year program, considered the best in the industry,” said Jeff Suderman, Director of Student Recruitment. “We are encouraged to see that the move to a more comprehensive program has been well received.”

The previous program at Olds was one year in length. But Olds holds the belief that horses today represent a significantly greater investment for owners and that society calls for a heightened awareness of animal welfare and how it is achieved. According to the program's new rationale, by doubling the Farrier Science Program’s length, Olds College will ensure that students graduate with increased knowledge of equine anatomy, horse handling and horse husbandry as well as sufficient proficiency in welding, basic blacksmithing and advanced corrective and therapeutic horseshoeing.

In keeping with the college’s emphasis on real-life, hands-on learning, the farrier program now requires completion of a total of eight months of what they call "Directed Field Study", split into five-month and three-month sections, respectively.

“One thing that attracted me to Olds College was the fact that it offers more than just six-week training programs. The two-year diploma stretches out learning to ensure we understand and develop the skills we need,” said Tyler Johnson, a first-year student in the new program.

Traditionally, the number of applicants for the Olds College program has exceeded its capacity, which caps at 16 students. Existing familiarity and aptitude with the farrier profession and horse and tool handling are just some of the areas of competency students need to demonstrate before they can even be considered for 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.

Olds College discontinued its shorter programs. Only the two-year program is offered, showing what a commitment the college is making to in-depth training of its students.

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