Tuesday, November 12, 2013

British Government Opens Consultation Period for Reforms to Farriers Registration Act

Today the Farriers Registration Council in Great Britain announced that that country's governmental Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), jointly with parallel teams in the Scottish and Welsh Governments, have opened a period of consultation for regulatory reform of the Farriers (Registration) Act (of) 1975.
The Act or "FRA", as it is known in the consultation, established farriery in 1975 as being protected by law so that only farriers who are registered with the Council may shoe horses in that country. Non-registered persons--even if they are farriers elsewhere--are not allowed to shoe, and the Act is very strictly enforced.

The Farriers Registration Council has come under criticism this year by barefoot trimmers and their defenders who feel that the farriers have an unfair and strong arm of the law on their side; the definition of what constitutes a "horseshoe" in the eyes of the law has also been an issue to those not protected under the Farriers Registration Act.

But according to the announcement, developments over the years and reforms to the regulation of other professions, including those recently introduced for veterinary surgeons, have left some of the arrangements for the regulation of farriers out-of-date and at risk of legal challenge, so an update was requested.

"Consequently the Farriers Registration Council (FRC) has sought Government help to remedy the deficiencies it sees with the Act. The overall aim will be to modernize the regulation of the farriery profession, greater protecting the public interest and reducing burdens upon the regulator," the announcement read.

From the announcement, the reader is directed to a consultation site set up by Defra that includes a detailed questionnaire. While you might expect the questions to be related to the practice of farriery, who can shoe horses, or ethics of equine welfare, the questions are of a greatly administrative nature, chiefly concerned with the makeup of the Council itself and how decisions related to regulation and enforcement of the law are handled.

In a previous announcement on July 16, the FRC had disclosed that it was in discussions with Defra and that issues of equine welfare were of concern, including what the FRC called politely "work done on unshod horses". The FRC stressed that ministers "will take decisions on this and other matters only after considering the views of all interested parties, which includes 'barefoot trimming' organizations and horse owners."

Photo courtesy of Simon Burgess, taken at the Newbury Show farrier competition in England.

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