Here in the US, anyone can work on horse hooves. In fact, someone can buy a few tools at Tractor Supply and advertise a farrier service without ever having met a horse or picked up a hoof. Not saying that they would be successful, but there’s no law against it! I am a huge advocate for going through a schooling process, riding along with mentors, and keeping up with continuing education, because there are no requirements in the States and I worry about the problems that completely inexperienced hands could cause. I believe that anyone passionate about horse hooves and about their career in hoofcare agrees that they want to learn as much as they can to help horses!
The UK however is quite the opposite. Farriers have to go through years of a degreed schooling program and testing in order to be qualified to be a full service farrier. It’s quite a different dynamic.
There often seems to be a bit of a harsh dynamic between the barefoot and shod community in hoofcare. Either side can vilify the work of the other, and it can get nasty. I tend to float somewhere in finding the common ground – what can we agree on, especially since both sides are so passionate about helping horses in their care. No one sets out to harm horses. Of course, both sides have their convictions and conclusions based on their experiences.
Most people that follow this page know that my practice focuses on barefoot, and utilizes booting and composite shoeing packages as needed. I’ve become friends with some wonderful practitioners who share similar values all over the world, including Mark Johnson in the UK. Mark started as a fully qualified farrier and shifted his focus to trimming and composite shoeing in the last few years. I wanted to chat with him about this change, and the catalyst that got him there. When I reached out to him, he connected me with Matthew Jackson and Robbie Richardson as well – two fully qualified farriers who made the shift to alternative approaches over their hoofcare career.