Interview with Mark Plumlee of Mission Farrier School

Interview with Mark Plumlee of Mission Farrier School

Tell me a little about your program and school?

Interview with Mark Plumlee of Mission Farrier School

Students learn basic barefoot trimming, basic horseshoeing, and advanced shoeing, with particular attention paid to therapeutic systems.

Mission Farrier School produces farrier graduates with the highest rate in the nation (90 percent or more staying in the profession three years or longer). Graduates are able to be successful because they exit class with an in-depth understanding of the needs and functions of the hoof and lower limb. The course outline includes the basic farrier science, plus:

  • the biomechanics of the lower limb
  • the anatomy of the lower limb, tendons, ligaments, bones, joints
  • the importance of a heel first landing
  • what the pivot point for forward movement means to your horse
  • how to identify distortion
  • how to evaluate lameness
  • how to assess anterior/posterior balance
  • how to assess medial/lateral balance
  • what goes wrong and why
  • regular shoeing, performance shoeing, therapeutic shoeing
  • application of the EDSS, SoulMax, Clog, and DNP therapeutic systems
  • how to correctly understand and trim feet
  • understanding the merits and challenges of barefoot
  • how to trim for barefoot maintenance and performance
  • what shoe to use and why
  • how to use the forge and anvil

Mission Farrier School has been in business since 1996.

Who does the instructing and can you tell me about the instructors’ experience?

Mark Plumlee, CJF, RJF, CNBBT, CNBF, CLS, started Mission Farrier School in 1996, after teaching a conventional program at the local state community college. Plumlee has six farrier certifications from three national farrier associations, so is in a unique position to integrate traditional knowledge with more modern, centered farrier science, that focuses on achieving equilibrium around the coffin joint for an increased level of soundness in horses.

What is the student-to-instructor ratio?

Class size is limited to eight students. A telephone interview is required prior to accepting anyone into class. Class is held in a 36 x 72′ professional farrier shop. Each student is assigned his or her own work station, anvil, forge, etc.

How many hours of instruction is the program?

Interview with Mark Plumlee of Mission Farrier School

It’s an eight-week course, 320 hours of instruction. Class meets Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to  5 p.m. Extra practice on the anvil/forge, and study is encouraged evenings and weekends. This is an intense, fast paced, professional program that requires a strong work and study ethic. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to see you succeed, but you, the student must be willing to focus, study and work hard. Plainly speaking, this isn’t a program for the lazy.

Do you track what percentage of graduates end up working as farriers? If not, do you have an estimate?

Ninety percent of our graduates are working as farriers. (The national average is just seven percent.)

Are supplies included in the cost of tuition and if so, do students get to keep the supplies?

Basic hand tools must be purchased from the dealer of your choice (see website or email for list). Forges and anvils are supplied during class. Books and several DVD sets are included with tuition and are the student’s to keep.

Does your program follow a standard curriculum set out by a farrier association that’s designed to help students achieve certification upon graduation?

We discuss certifications from three national farrier associations, the American Farriers Association, the Guild of Professional Farriers and the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization. We teach to all three, with an emphasis and encouragement towards the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization’s certification, as that certification is more meaningful to maintaining soundness in horses.

For more information on Mission Farrier School, visit


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  • Rebecca Hazard
    Rebecca Hazard May 30, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a graduate of Mission Farrier School...
    and I can't say enough good about my experience there. The instruction is based on the most current farrier science which can be bit of a departure from the "old school" way of doing things. They question the "why" of how things are done, and are ever finding new solutions to old problems. The curriculum is well-rounded with focus' on anatomy, bio-mechanics, horsemanship, and metal craftsmanship - as well as actual horseshoeing. Although there is a written syllabus, the learning is fluid and largely based around each horse that comes through the door and the lessons it brings. Each horse has something to teach. Additionally, Mark Plumlee is an amazing teacher. He has a background in "conventional" farriery and has expanded his knowledge far beyond his traditional roots. He has the ability to take each student where they are, at whatever level of experience, and b…

  • Marie Cavassa
    Marie Cavassa May 30, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Mission Farrier School not only gave me the opportunity to a new career, but more importantly a complete understanding into the function and needs of the horse and his mobility. I came away from MFS prepared to talk with Equine Vets and horse owners regarding the needs of each individual horse in my care. Thanks again Mark!

  • Joe W Marceau
    Joe W Marceau May 30, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    Mission Farrier School is a hands on and a great way to get a professional education started in the pacific northwest. Mark and Karen teach you everything to get started from tools to horsemanship and also skilled anvil work. call them today for more info and to sit in on a class to see what it's about.

  • Deanna Stoppler
    Deanna Stoppler May 31, 2012 at 3:38 AM

    Mission Farrier School is a in-depth way to begin your path as a professional farrier. You will be immersed in forge work from Day 1 and each day is filled with hands-on work as well as lectures. You will learn more than you thought possible in two months, and will be ready to begin your business upon graduation. All of the quality graduates from Mission Farrier School that I have talked to have more than enough work and are in high demand in their areas. Mark and Karen Plumlee are patient, kind, friendly, and very knowledgeable. Mark Plumlee is a top notch instructor, the kind that when you ask him a question he will explain it to you in such a way that it clicks and will never discourage questions. He is able to adjust his teaching style to each student's way of learning and keeps the class interesting for everyone, whether they pick things up more quickly than others or need more time to absorb the content. I looked at many farrier schools before deciding on Mission Farrie…

  • Terry Neill
    Terry Neill May 31, 2012 at 6:09 AM

    If you are serious about being at the top of your profession,you simply won't get a better start at this challanging job.Mark is one of the best you will ever see under a horse.Plus he's just a really good guy.

  • Ailka Verzuh
    Ailka Verzuh May 31, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    This was my second time at a farrier school. Mission Farrier School was far ahead of the first one I attended, I learned so much more and understand more about helping horses and shoeing correctly. I have only been out of school a couple of weeks and am working already.
    I am very thankfull to both Mark and Karen for their help and support while I was at their school. They work hard to help you be the best you can.

  • Scott Ferguson
    Scott Ferguson May 31, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    If you are in the pursuit of excellence, then Mission Farrier School is the place for you. Mark is the perfect blend of traditional craftsmanship and current farrier science. His knowledge and patience with each horse and student sets them both up for success in achieving their full potential. It is a privilege for me to be a graduate of MFS, and I highly recommend anybody interested in the well being of horses to enroll today.

  • Kathy Klix
    Kathy Klix May 31, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    I graduated from Mission Farrier School in 2007, and the instruction given by Mark and Karen really stays with you. With a limited class size there is often more time for one-on-one interaction with the instructor, which was very helpful for me. Probably the biggest piece of the puzzle Mission Farrier School teaches you is the horsemanship. Handling a horse is something that is often overlooked, but Mark does a great job of teaching you how to get the job done while keeping you, the horse, and the handler safe. Oh, and just wait until you learn to shoe difficult horses loose in the roundpen; horse owners are always amazed at that one!

  • Chad Snyder
    Chad Snyder June 1, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Mission Farrier School far surpassed all my expectations! Mark Plumlee is an incredible instructor that has the unique ability to connect and create a positive learning environment for every student. At Mission Farrier School you never know what kind of horse will walk through the door and Mark will make the most of every learning opportunity. MFS could better be described as Mission Farrier - Advanced Equine Anatomy & Horsemanship School.
    My clients are continually amazed at my level of education and ability to explain not only what is going on but why. I am confident that I would not be where I am today without having attended Mission Farrier School.

  • Sam Ely
    Sam Ely June 2, 2012 at 1:00 AM

    Mission Farrier School provides the most extensive farrier education available today. I retired from the Army in 2008 with 27 years of service. My last 3 year assignment was as a Professor at Oregon State University. In so stating my experience as a graduate of MFS I can with out hesitation state that Mark Plumlee's ability to insure each and every student fully understands Farrier Science as well the importance of Horsemanship is unmatched.
    Since my graduation I have been applying the Natural Balance principles in all disciplines of my equine clientele and have become very successful.
    The big bonus to attend this institution is the verity of lameness issues that are referred to Mark. There is nothing like going into a situation and knowing exactly what to do. Mark will paint the picture, explain the process, and help you become the best farrier you can possibly be. I owe my success to his insurmountable knowledge, professionalism and the educational experience only attainabl…

  • Randy Rauscher
    Randy Rauscher June 5, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    Over a period of time I have really come to appreciate the scope and completeness of the training provided by Mission Farrier School. Trimming, shoeing, lameness issues, anatomy, horse handling (this one was huge for me!) after graduation support and a lot more. Best program in the country if not the world. Mark and Karen have been instrumental in my success as a farrier!!! Thanks!! Couldn't have done it without you.

  • Ginger Ehrhardt
    Ginger Ehrhardt June 12, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    I attended MFS summer 2011. The education and experience surpassed my highest expectations. The in depth education of anatomy and biomechanics was amazing. Mark teaches in a manner that is relaxed and easy to understand. If you don't "get it" he will work with you until you DO get it. It's hands on from day one. There are so many different situations, based on whatever horses walk through the doors. Every student works on his/her own horse, so there is maximum opportunity to learn. The extensive work with the forge and anvil is unbelievable. I have been around horses my entire life and thought I knew quite a bit about horsemanship. Well, let me say, I learned things that were almost miraculous. After graduation, I came home to a small community full of cowboys and folks very set in the old school ways of trimming and shoeing horses. I also came when there was very little business. In less than a year, I have a nice clientele and work on nearly 100 horses r…

  • Brad Erickson
    Brad Erickson June 25, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    I echo what has already been posted. After working in one of the most competitive farrier markets in the country, I absolutely believe that my education at MFS gave me an advantage in my practice. I was taught a "common-sense" approach to hoof science that the horses and their owners are screaming for. Thank you again, Mark and Karen.

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