Just as humankind has progressed in all scientific endeavors from biology to computer technology, farriery has progressed from the days when the village blacksmith was called on to put shoes on horses to now, a time when farriery encompasses so much more than just shoeing a horse.
To give you an idea of the range of skills and knowledge today’s farrier needs to possess, read this list of courses from the Olds College two-year farrier science program:
- Equine anatomy
- Advanced forging and horseshoeing
- Advanced therapeutic and corrective horseshoeing
- Performance shoeing
- Trimming and keg shoeing
- Horse handling
- Directed field studies
- Professional practice
- Small business planning and management
- Communications and personal management
- Record keeping
Courses like equine anatomy and advanced therapeutic and corrective horseshoeing point to the advanced knowledge that today’s farrier is called upon to provide for clients’ horses. With the systematized knowledge that comes from years of testing, farrier science has figured out tested ways to approach issues such as evaluating lameness, identifying distortion and assessing balance.
Just as sports science has evolved to provide better service to athletes, so has farrier science. Gait analysis is one particular area where farriers can help increase a horse’s performance and better deal with their injuries. By applying an advanced knowledge of horse anatomy farriers can analyze a horse’s gait to figure out precisely what issues a horse is having with its hooves and legs. If, for example, a horse’s hooves are unbalanced, lameness and poor performance can result.
And with the aid of computers, farriers can “track, measure and quantify the biomechanical data of what happens when a horse is moving. What happens right now, when a horse is first measured? What changes are taking place over time, especially with changes in farriery or training used as a result of the readings?” Put into practice by Farrier Science, these are some of the questions that farriers ask, using cameras to record a horse’s movements and computers to make sense of the data.
Science is a state of knowing. With a great body of scientific knowledge to draw from and a refined scientific method to determine the best course of action, today’s farriers put the skills and knowledge set forth in farrier science to improve the health and performance of horses.