One Professional's Point of View
There’s no question about it, research on the horse’s foot is booming. Concerns over foot related injuries and lameness associated with the lower limb have become insurmountable. Educated horse owners, breeders and trainers are looking to the professional hoof care provider for answers. Though all to often the concerned horse owner and professional have become disenchanted by the redundancy of the antiquated approaches and treatment recommendations offered them. With so many equine research projects underway you would have thought that answers to hoof care related problems would abound.
In this decade research into the complex genetic and environmental interplay that shapes the equine foot and determines its demise is an area that has moved to center stage at many universities. Who will this new found knowledge be communicated to and will those in the field have the skills necessary to make use of this information? The real question is: will the minds that breathe life into the struggling farrier trade come from the hallowed halls of the veterinary universities, or will this rescue come from those educated at the traditional farrier’s school? These were a few of the questions pondered while revising curriculums of study at the Institute of Applied Equine Podiatry. In order to accomplish our goals of providing the most relevant and progressive education possible we also decided to take a good close look at the educational systems that were being offered those wishing to enter the field of farriery.
Most farriers schools attract and accommodate those students that wish to enter a trade, those
hoping to be able to make a better than average income and to do so while having to meet only limited academic requirements. As an example: In the UK, the farrier student must attend one of the nation’s approved farrier colleges, the actual semesters for academic study at these colleges is eight weeks the first year, six for the second, four for the third, and two weeks in the fourth and final year. The remainder of the student’s education is spent in apprenticeship with an approved mentor, the master farrier. It is likely that it has only been in the two decades that you would find a teacher (master farrier) that would have attended college themselves. The reason; it was in the mid 70’s when the registries began and at that time most all working farriers fell under a grandfather clause and did not have to attend college. In many cases these same farriers would take an apprentice under this new system. Though this system may have been flawed, it remains far superior to any other form of farrier educational system in the world today and has undergone substantial change over the past five years. In the United States however there is no regulation of the farrier trade. Formal education is strictly voluntary and as a result quality varies greatly. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that education in the farrier trade does not exist, on the contrary, it exist alright, but we need to accept the fact that growth within the farrier trade is nearly nonexistent, and that we need to find a way to revive a somewhat antiquated and all to often inadequate trade.
I believe that if we are to see rapid advances in the understanding and treatment of the equine foot, we need to promote a profession that will attract those minds that will accelerate the science of hoof care. We need minds that will take equine podiatry and the farrier trade out of the Victorian era.
It is my belief that the practices and principles of Applied Equine Podiatry hold promise in better understanding the equine foot and that the practice of Applied Equine Podiatry is in fact defining a new equine related profession. Applied Equine Podiatry is a profession that continues to attract the minds needed to advance the farrier trade. It has been said that Applied Equine Podiatry is actually an evolution of the farrier trade.
Let me share this bit of proof with you. Attendance to the Institute’s five day courses on the science of Applied Equine Podiatry has grown steadily over the past decade. Enrollment in the Institute’s full time diploma program has shown a dramatic increase in the past three years, so much so that it dictates our company’s expansion.
Of interest are the demographics of the students interested in hoof care or AEP as a
career. The demographics of the Institute’s students may be a good indication of where hoof care needs to go, and where it is going. Our students range in average age from 24 to 54 and most have a high level of formal education, many holding advance degrees. What is the reason for this? What attracts this type of person to a profession that in many eyes is reserved for those having a stronger propensity toward the physical attributes? I think the answer is; a common desire to improve the quality of life of today’s horse.
Many students come to us because they are disappointed in what their farrier and/or veterinarian have had to offer. Some felt a strong desire to move toward that which appeared more natural. Why they come to AEP is important, but not as important as their thirst for knowledge, it is this thirst that is the fuel that will advance Applied Equine Podiatry as a profession.
In my humble opinion, Applied Equine Podiatry as a profession has over the past 15 years proven itself to be a viable alternative to the traditional farrier trade.
For more information about Applied Equine Podiatry visit our website at www.equinepodiatry.com