The Farriery Apprenticeship
A Farrier is a skilled craftsperson with a sound knowledge of both the theory and practice of the craft, capable of shoeing all types of feet, whether normal or defective, making shoes to suit all types of animal and working conditions and of devising corrective measures to compensate for faulty limb action. A "farrier" should not be confused with a "blacksmith". Farriers and blacksmiths both work with metal but only a farrier is permitted to fit shoes to horses.
Farriery, or the shoeing of horses and similar animals, is an ancient craft. It is defined in the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 as 'any work in connection with the preparation or treatment of the foot of a horse for the immediate reception of a shoe thereon, the fitting by nailing or otherwise of a shoe to the foot or the finishing off of such work to the foot’.
To become a farrier it is necessary to qualify for entry into the Register of Farriers. To achieve this requires completion of a course of training and a minimum period of experience approved by the Farriers Registration Council (FRC). The course currently approved is an Adavanced Apprenticeship, including an NVQ Level 3 in Farriery, the Key/Core Skills of Communication and Application of Number at Level 2, a college based qualification in IT and Business Studies and a Technical Certificate which is the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. The prescribed period of experience is 4 years and 2 months. Training comprises full time employed on the job training with the Approved Training Farrier and twenty-three weeks off the job training at one of the four approved colleges, arranged by the Farriery Training Agency (FTA).
The period of apprenticeship includes a two month designated "probationary period", which is specifically for the ATF to assess the apprentice with the horse and for the apprentice to ascertain if he/she has chosen the right profession and training environment. During the probationary period either the ATF or apprentice may terminate the Apprenticeship Agreement with no repercussion. Once accepted onto the Farriery Apprenticeship Scheme, all candidates are required to sign an Apprenticeship Agreement. This is a legally enforceable contract of employment which is also signed by the ATF, the FTA and the candidate’s guardian, if applicable.
There are a limited number of training places available each year and there is strong competition to gain an apprenticeship. Farriery is a highly skilled craft which requires both practical skills and theoretical knowledge and the strict entry requirements exist to make sure that everyone starting an apprenticeship should be capable of finishing it successfully.
If you are thinking about a career as a farrier please contact the Farriery Training Agency for more information....
Continuing Professional DevelopmentFarriery, alongside medical and veterinary science, is constantly moving forward in knowledge, technique and skill. To reflect this many farriers have furthered their education to keep up to date with these developments through organising and attending clinics and conferences. In turn this has provided them with the advanced skill to deal with conditions of the hoof effectively and employ therapeutic methods as necessary.
This conscious development of professional competence and knowledge within an individual’s chosen career is known as Continuing Professional Development (CPD). It recognises the individual is continuously seeking to improve and keep their knowledge up to date and ensures that the standards required to have gained their professional qualification are, at the very least, maintained. Introduced into the veterinary profession in 1997, formally recognised CPD was introduced to the farriery industry in 2008.
CPD is being taken up by many professions, particularly those that are regulated by law such as Dentists, Doctors and Teachers, for which it is mandatory. Vets have a professional obligation to participate in 105 hours of CPD over 3 years, with an average of 35 hours per year. CPD for farriers is not compulsory under the Farriers Registration Act 1975 and to make it so would require a change in the law. It is however recommended that farriers obtain 10 CPD points a year averaged over a three year period. (During the introductory years it was recommended that five points were gained in 2008, eight points in 2009 and from 2010 onwards 10 points per year). Farriers are provided with a certificate annually showing the CPD completed in the past year, and the points awarded over the past three years.
CPD Points are awarded for a number of endeavours to encourage farriers to participate in a wide range of activities ensuring an individual is ‘well-rounded’ in all aspects of their professional life. Examples of such events include shoemaking courses and competitions, conferences, clinics, health and safety, first aid and computer competence in addition to reading books and subscriptions to periodicals, attending business courses and giving presentations to Pony Clubs and Riding Clubs. Perhaps the ultimate CPD is the study for and acquisition of higher farrier qualifications such as the Associate and Fellowship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. Organisers of CPD events can apply to the CPDSG to have their event accredited and the booking and recording of CPD activity can be done online through the CPD website at www.farrierycpd.org.
Although rapidly increasing in number the current provision of CPD events is such that it does not allow for every farrier in the UK to acquire 10 points a year. Many organised CPD events are centrally located for national attendance and there is currently a push to introduce more events at a ‘local’ level to lift geographical restrictions. This has already begun with branches of the National Association and other local groups such as the Yorkshire Farriers Education and Demonstration Association becoming more proactive. Factors such as time taken off work and the cost of attending such events are also issues to be examined.
The introduction of any new concept is not without its teething problems however active participation in CPD will ultimately result in better looked after clients; human and horse. Carers of equines have a right to expect that a farrier’s knowledge is kept up to date and that the standards gained at graduation have at least been maintained. Whilst not exclusive, the accrual of CPD points goes some way to formally recognise this. Farriers actively advancing their expertise will ultimately be better equipped to deal with a more diverse range of ailments, and business scenario’s, and perhaps even give them the competitive edge!