The Fallacy Of Farrier Licensing In America
by Barry Denton of Arizona
BWFA Member since 1992
Master Farrier, TESTER, Hall of Fame 2012
It has come to my attention that Mr. Walt Taylor of New Mexico has been soliciting government officials and farrier schools for help in “professionalizing” farriery. According to his recent letters Mr. Taylor seems to think that farriers are not professional enough for his liking and that we should be regulated by the government. Mr. Taylor goes on to claim that “millions of horses, donkeys, and mules endure needless pain and suffering caused by poor foot care and farriery practices.” He also states that “Many farriers or horseshoers are poorly trained, non professional people with little knowledge or skill in performing this necessary work.” While I believe that Mr. Taylor is well intentioned, my opinion is that he is woefully misguided. I am taken aback that he would attack the very trade that has provided him a living for so many years and the very professionals that he has worked with. In my estimation Mr. Taylor is truly an extremist and tends to blow things out of proportion to promote his cause. I have crisscrossed the country many times as a farrier working in professional barns and non professional situations. I certainly would like to know where the millions of horses, donkeys, and mules that are enduring needless pain. Yes, in my lifetime I have seen a few animals that might be lame from bad nail placement or feet that were trimmed too short. Farriers are human and all make mistakes from time to time. These mistakes will not be eliminated with a government certificate. However, these incidents are few and far between. If a farrier is constantly making horses lame then soon no one will hire the farrier doing below average work. The marketplace weeds out the poor horseshoers. It is that simple. I commend Mr. Taylor for founding the American Farriers Association to advance the education of farriers, mine included. However, even though the American Farriers Association has installed a very worthwhile certification program, they have done nothing to help the farriers that earn their certification. What is the point of preparing for the certification other than a personal goal? It has no direct impact on your income. In most trades, when you achieve a certain amount of skill you are elevated in rank and so are your earnings. The AFA does nothing to help the farriers that put in their hard work to achieve certification. Most people could care less if you belong to a farrier association or not. They are just happy if you do a nice job on their horse.
I realize that Mr. Taylor seems to be enamored with the British system of farrier regulation. I am sorry to hear that. I have been to Britain to observe and work with many of those farriers first hand. Yes, their apprenticeship system does have its merits as they all learn to become decent iron workers early on. In America I think we tend to put the horse first and we develop our forge skills later on. However, for all their certifications and regulations the British farriers are dealing with the same problems with horses that we are. Many of them look to America for solving problems of the hoof because our wide open system allows for many new products and methods come to the surface in a short time. There are not any less lame horses in Britain because of their farrier regulations. The biggest thing that I noticed was that at the time I was there income tax for the farrier was at 68%. Ours was at 28%. Those farriers had gotten to be very efficient horseshoers because they literally were shoeing twice as many horses to make the same amount of money as we do. Believe me most were not happy about it.
Think about this in relation to gun control. The areas with the most gun control have the highest crime rates. The more government control you put on farriers the less quality farriers you will have. Government control means less economic opportunity for the farrier.
Lastly, if you want to raise your status as a farrier in the United States, it is your prerogative and you are not hindered by government at this time. It is up to you to seek out more knowledge to make you better at what you do. If you want to shoe the nations best horses then increase your talent and dedication to the horse. Pick the right location. You can not be a farrier to world champions if you are not in an area that has world champions. America is still a land of freedom and opportunity. Freedom is the key word which should trump regulation. Do you really want to be working for the government any more than you already are?