So after making the decision to become a farrier you’ve decided that you want to start your career off on the right track by going to farrier school. Now you may be asking, just what is the best school for me? What should I look out for? Like any big decision there’s a number of issues to consider. We’ve listed the basic points that you want to think about below when making your decision, from general to specific. The next page of the Education Guide, “Questions to Ask School,” goes into more detail about the specific things you should look out for, framed as questions for you to ask school staff and students.
As always, cost is a major determinant for most people when deciding on a school. Figure out what your school tuition and living expense budget is. Then look through our school listings to find the right school within your budget.
Are you willing to relocate if there’s no school nearby? If so, how much will living expenses cost? Figure out if these costs work within your budget. And if not, can you commute? Do you want to use your schooling as an opportunity to travel? There are farrier schools worldwide, but learning the trade in one country and working in another could be a problem (i.e. the UK demands farriers get certified, so going to school in the U.S. and then trying to work in the UK is an issue).
Do you prefer learning in a large institution, such as a college, a less formal school, or one-on-one? Colleges and universities offer advantages in that they offer many programs and could open up diverse connections through the many people you meet, but have larger class sizes than less formal schools, which provide a smaller learning environment and closer connections to staff.
Have you ever met a farrier that you resonate with? Getting a personal referral to a school from someone you trust is a great thing because, by extension, you’ll be more likely to trust that school yourself and the people who work there. Also, if you have friends or family that attend (or have attended) a horseshoeing school, you’ll probably feel more comfortable going there yourself.
Farrier education varies dramatically between workshops that are measured in days and college programs that are measured in years, which means the quantity and quality of education delivered will vary greatly. It’s worth thinking about how long some programs are and what material they offer. If a short program tries to cover all the same things as a much longer program then it really gets you thinking if everything will be covered fully.
A good starting point is to look at the course curriculums for different schools and comparing them. Most schools include their curriculums on their websites or in brochures. If not, contact them and ask. Browse through our school directory to find links to the school websites.
Quality and type of education
The point of going to a farrier school is that you will have the skills and confidence to do the job on your own once you graduate. For that reason it’s essential to find out how much hands-on training you get. Do you get to shoe live horses or not? Will you learn corrective shoeing? Find out what horses you will get to work on and where they come from. If you have to drive around to different sites it will cut significantly into your day.
A school is only as good as its instructors. Teaching is a difficult profession that requires passion, enthusiasm and a lot of energy. Teachers often don’t receive the respect they deserve and, unfortunately, some get discouraged from the day-to-day grind so they don’t have the same kind of passion to serve their students that others do. The Farrier Guide encourages you to thoroughly read through the school listings and interviews to get a sense of the schools/instructors that you click with. It’s also worth finding out how experienced the instructors are. Some schools use student instructors whereas others have only one experienced instructor who does all the teaching.
Visiting the school
A lot can be read into a school through a detailed listing or into a person through their words, but it’s always best to check out a school in person. If at all possible, narrow down your list to your top few choices, schedule a meeting (preferably during class time), then go visit them. On your visit, observe the school: its instructors at work, students, school, equipment, accommodations, etc. Arm yourself with some questions that will help you determine whether the school is a right fit for you, then feel free to ask the school staff.
Also, ask some students (preferably current, though alumni would be good sources as well) what their experience with the school is/was like. If there are no students around when you go (or you can’t physically make it there) get some references from the school, then call them up. Read the next page, “Questions to ask” to get some ideas on what to ask school staff and student references when you speak to them.
After doing all this research, you may find that you’re unable to attend school or that school just isn’t right for you. If that’s the case, don’t let it dash your hopes of becoming a farrier. Read our alternative farrier training page for other ideas on learning farriery.