Colorado has a range of choices for people wanting to make a living as a farrier, either as a part-time gig or as a full-time professional career. There are also a few blacksmithing programs if you’re more interested in learning or refining your forge work. From basic weekend classes to full equine science degrees, Colorado’s variety of programs reaches students of all levels and interests. Here’s a list of what the state has to offer.
Burdett Metalsmithing and Design offers beginner blacksmithing classes that introduce students to the basics of working with metal. Hammer techniques, safety procedures and forge work are all part of the course, which runs for four consecutive Saturdays. Classes are hands on and project-based, and space is limited. For more information, visit http://www.burdettmetalsmithing.com/classes.php.
Colorado Rocky Mountain School has a comprehensive blacksmithing education program for high school students looking to learn a trade. There are two streams of program: Academic, for those interested in learning the fundamentals of metal design, drafting and technology, and Work Crew and Interim, which focuses on service and collaborative projects. Both streams emphasize practical exercises and projects. To learn more, go to http://www.crms.org/academic/blacksmithing/.
Colorado State University has an Equine Science program that includes a farrier practicum. Equine Science majors work toward a four-year degree that prepares them for a wide range of possible careers in the equine industry. The farrier practicum teaches students anatomy, conformation and pathology, as well as basic principles of horseshoeing and how to properly trim a foot. The website http://equinescience.agsci.colostate.edu/ has all the details.
Equine Lameness Prevention Organization (ELPO) offers 8-week basic courses for those interested in horseshoeing as a full or part-time career. Students will learn to use the forge, evaluate hooves, recognize lameness and perform basic shoeing. Emphasis is on ELPO Hoofcare protocols. The program makes use of lectures, lab and forge work, guest speakers and field trips. A certificate of completion is issued upon graduation. See http://www.elpofarrierschool.com/ to learn more.
Forge with Intention runs six different weekend classes to introduce students to the basics of blacksmithing as an art. The classes are project based and cover forging techniques, tool making and welding. Advanced week long classes cover metal working and sculpture for those interested in refining their technique and taking on larger projects. More information can be found at http://www.forgewithintention.com/index.html .
Pikes Peak Community College offers a Certificate in Farrier Science designed to prepare graduates for entry level employment in the field. Courses include both lecture and practical hours, and topics range from the basics of anatomy and horse handling to corrective, specialized shoeing and client relations. Master Farrier courses are also available once students have completed the basics. Find out more at http://www.ppcc.edu/app/catalog/current/farrier-science.htm
Western J Horseshoeing runs an apprenticeship program where students focus on hands-on learning. In this program, students ride along with an experienced farrier full time for 3 months and learn anatomy, corrective hoof care and hot and cold shoeing. Business education and horsemanship is also part of the program. Theory is incorporated, but the focus is on practical education. To learn more about it, visit http://www.westernjhorseshoeing.com/apprenticeship-program/.
There are lots of exciting different directions your career could take. Program directors should be able to answer your questions and provide you with any details about the course you’re interested in. Speaking to a number of directors and program graduates, as well as farriers and blacksmiths who you respect will help you narrow your options and find the education that’s right for you.