As you know from being a horseperson, there is literally no such thing as knowing too much. There are definitely times when knowing how to do things right means knowing when other people are doing things wrong, but that’s not so much a problem – it’s just a frustrating or hilarious experience, depending on the context.
As a farrier, there are lots of good reasons to continue your education even after you’re done apprenticing. Building your skill set can be a way of attracting new clients or keeping up with changing client demographics. It can also be a way of finding new strategies to treat hoof-related issues that you see crop up in your clients’ horses. It can give you a new perspective on a problem or introduce you to new, cutting-edge methods to solve that problem.
It’s also just a good investment in your business to make sure that you’re up to date with your knowledge and in good practice with your skills. Lots of shoeing methods are tested and true, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also keep up with developments in the equine industry around you.
There are a number of schools around North America that run continuing education courses and lots of them are custom-made for individual farriers. As a bonus, they’re all short, so you won’t have to take too much time off of your life. Here are just a few to get you thinking:
Butler Professional Farrier School has several options for farriers looking to increase their knowledge. Clinics, workshops and individual instruction are available for professional farriers. Advanced training covers skills development and also theory. The individual instruction includes a career assessment and follow-up consultations. Scheduling can be flexible.
Cornell University Farrier School runs a one week Advanced Farrier course for working farriers who have two or more years of experience in the field. The course is a week-long intensive and can be customized to cover what the farrier wants to learn. It’s also used as preparation by farriers interested in sitting the certification exams with the American Farrier’s Association. The space is limited, but the scheduling is flexible. A phone or in-person interview with the instructor is required before acceptance to the program.
Heartland Horseshoeing School has a one-week National Certification Course for professional farriers looking to sit one of the AFA Certification exams. The course focuses on theory, shoe-making and correct shoeing practices. Students receive hands on help and guidance towards meeting exam requirements. They also recommend the course as a refresher for anyone who’s been out of practice a while.
Kentucky Horseshoeing School offers a range of continuing education options. Clinics and workshops on specific topics run throughout the year, but independent students are also welcome to get some hands-on training in new skills and techniques that they want to learn. The school creates custom individualized clinics, too, for those who are very pressed for time. The individual programs are one on one and the scheduling is flexible.
If you can’t give up the time or the funds to do an intensive course, there are other options for continuing education, too. The American Farrier’s Association runs clinics around North America and the American Association of Professional Farriers has online webinars, articles and videos that address specific topics. Both of those associations host conferences and conventions which also give farriers opportunities to learn from each other and to network.
Even online videos and social media are becoming more savvy in offering instructional how-tos. You might have to…sift…to find videos and articles you trust, but the internet is an incredibly useful resource if you need to find out how to do something or to learn how other people are doing it. Educational videos are limited in that you won’t (obviously) be able to ask questions or get clarification, but a good video might at least give you some perspective on what other professionals think about specific issues.
Finally, let’s not overlook the old-fashioned way of finding somebody who’s good at something you want to be good at and then asking them to teach you. Everybody has their own specialty and sharing that knowledge makes for better farriers everywhere. There’s no cutting-edge networking to this approach, but learning in a one on one environment is efficient and there’s something very civilized about it all.
Good luck with your learning!
by Cindy McMann