"FARRIER LICENSING, WHO REALLY PAYS THE PRICE?"
BY SCOTT WARGO
Once again the subject of licensing of Farriers has come about so I decided to write an article to give my opinion as a practicing Farrier. From this perspective I want to provide the reader, who will hopefully be the horse owner, with more information regarding the topic. Furthermore, with the provided information I want the horse owner and industry to understand that licensing will create a shortage in farriers at a higher price.
Let’s start out discussing some facts and history within the industry. Currently there are three reputable associations that certify (not license) Farriers within the United States. There is the Brotherhood of Working Farriers Association, the American Farriers Association and the Guild of Professional Farriers. Each one of these associations certifies and educates the Farriers within their groups. Moreover, there are more horseshoeing schools and educational opportunities in the United States than ever before. Currently, an individual farrier by the name of Walt Taylor is pushing for licensing based on the false premise that Farriers are lamming horses. Furthermore, this is not the first time he has pushed the issue. As a horse owner I would wonder why one person would continue to push so hard for the licensing of Farriers? My “gut instinct” would tell me that it appears that he is trying to create a monopoly and once that monopoly is created his group can control the price and education within the industry. So, is the push for licensing based on providing horses the best hoof care or money?
If this monopoly is created how will licensing affect the farrier, the horse owner and the horse industry? I think the best way to frame this is to ask a few question. For instance, how much will the license cost, how much will annual training cost for farriers to stay current, will farriers be required to take a test and apply for a license in every state they intend to work in, who will govern the process, will certified farriers have to re-certify? I could go on, but let me get to the point of each of those questions. Every question I just listed will cost the farrier time and money, therefore costing the costumer more money. The bottom line is someone will have to pay for it and at a micro view it will be the individual horse owner. From a macro view, the industry as a whole will suffer due to less people being able to afford and care for horses. Will this happen over-night, no but I predict there will be a steady decline in horse owners. The second and third order effect of the drop in ownership will be felt in companies that make tack, feed, and horse trailers, just to name a few. The next question is how will this affect the US economy? Per the American Horse Council numbers in 2005, there are 4.6 million people involved with horses, 9.2 million horses in the US and they have a 102 billion dollar impact on the US economy. Do we really want to jeopardize an industry that provides 102 billion dollars to our economy?
Some people have made the agruement that licensing will not hurt our equine industry and use the UK and their licensing process as their example. Here is the bottom line, owning a horse in the UK is substantially greater than it is in the United States. I’m certain that the cost of a Farrier is a factor when looking at the overall cost of horse ownership in the UK. Lastly, just because you develop a licensing process does not mean that people will follow it. For example, it is hard to get a licensed Farrier in places like the Scottish Highlands, so how do you think those horses get trimmed and shod? My guess is that they are trimmed or shod at a higher rate or illegally.
Whether you agree with me or not it is hard to deny that if licensing in the United States is mandated that the individual horse owner will absorb the cost, therefore setting off a ripple effect throughout the horse industry. I hope the horse owner walks away from reading this article realizing two things. First, the cost of your Farrier will increase and two everything associated with the horse ownership will increase.