Tell me a little about your program and school?
Oklahoma Horseshoeing School has been in continuous operation under the same management since 1973. Students at Oklahoma Horseshoeing School will learn all aspects of the horseshoeing trade with a large emphasis on craftsmanship.
Our program is distinguished from others by the much greater amount of time spent on hands-on live shoeing. Our horses are hauled in to us every day by our customers and we spend the day shoeing them for our customers. There’s a one hour and 15 minute lecture period at the beginning of the day. After that we shoe live horses for the rest of the day. We begin by teaching trimming and cold shoeing and students are expected to move up to hot shoeing by their third week. By week number four the better students are shoeing with handmade shoes for the different kinds of disciplines for which our customers are training and using their horses: handmade aluminum shoes for the front end of hunters and jumpers, sliding plates for the hind hooves of reining horses, sliderettes for roping, reining and event horses, borium shoes for pavement horses, etc.
Our students begin live shoeing on their very first day in school and will shoe live horses every single day, six days a week, for the entire time they’re in school.
By the time a student is finished with our longest course (12 weeks) he will be ready to shoe almost any kind of horse for paying customers and he will be competitive with the better farriers in his area.
Who does the instructing and can you tell me about the instructors’ experience?
Our students are taught by instructors whom I have trained myself. The more advanced students in the shop are taught by a Certified Journeyman farrier and the newer students are taught by instructors who have a couple of years of experience shoeing for the public. We do always, or almost always, have a student instructor also, meaning a student who has finished at the top of his class but with limited experience in shoeing for the public.
If you think about it, horseshoeing instructors do not grow on trees. They must be developed from early in their careers or we will not have competent instructors for the future.
What is the student-to-instructor ratio?
Our policy is to never have less than one instructor per 10 students. However, the usual ratio is more like 5 to 7 students per instructor. I would like to make an interesting point here. One would naturally think that the fewer students in the school at any given time would lead to better teaching and work performed by the students. In reality though that is not the case. The way it works out is that the more students there are the better the work. Why would that be? The best I can tell is that the more students the more competition between students and the more time spent by the students in the shop after class hours.
How many hours of instruction is the program?
Eight hours of instruction (or more, because we must finish the days work for our customers’ horses) five days per week and seven hours on Saturdays. So at least 47 hours per week and usually quite a bit more. Also, and this is important, there’s no wasted time driving out to different farms to find horses to shoe. This means that all scheduled class time is teaching and learning time. We do not waste two hours per day driving.
Do you track what percentage of graduates end up working as farriers? If not, do you have an estimate?
Yes, we do track the percentage of students who end up working as farriers. Every January we survey a large sampling of students from two years ago. We ask the question “Since graduating from Oklahoma Horseshoeing School have you shod horses for the majority of your family’s income.” Some years that turns out to be in the low 90 percentile and other years that might turn out to be in the high 80 percentile. This means an average of around 90 percent of our graduates go on to become professional farriers. If you think about it, that would be expected because horseshoeing does pay better than most other occupations.
Are supplies included in the cost of tuition and if so, do students get to keep the supplies?
Students at Oklahoma Horseshoeing School buy their own tools. After all, they will need them to shoe horses for a living after they leave school. Actually, whether or not the school would supply the tools included in the cost of tuition is not very relevant because if the school would supply the tools then the tuition would be proportionally higher to cover the cost of the tools. The difference is that if the student will buy his own tools then he isn’t limited to the specific brand names of tools which are the most profitable for the school.
Does your program follow a standard curriculum set out by a farrier association that’s designed to help students achieve certification upon graduation?
Oklahoma Horseshoeing School does follow a standardized program set out by the farrier’s organizations and we have found that a strong percentage of our graduates will go on to become Certified Farriers or Certified Journeyman Farriers.
For more information on Oklahoma Horseshoeing School, visit www.horseshoes.net.