Putting heavier emphasis on field study in shoeing horses, Alberta’s Olds College plans to expand its farrier program from a one-year certificate to a two-year diploma, starting in October.
The ag college said in a release Wednesday that students receiving its new farrier science diploma are expected to enter the horse industry with “increased knowledge of equine anatomy, horse handling and horse husbandry.”
Emphasis will also be increased on “welding, basic blacksmithing and advanced corrective and therapeutic horseshoeing,” the college said.
And the expanded program will also require a total of eight months of “directed field study,” split into five-month and three-month sections respectively, the college said.
The current one-year program involves 15 weeks of instruction in basic farriery, followed by four months’ practical experience, then nine weeks of advanced instruction.
The program qualifies students to work as self-employed farriers or support technicians in vet clinics, or for operations such as race tracks, farms or breeding ranches.
“Horses now represent a significant financial investment for most owners and there is also a heightened awareness of animal welfare and how it is achieved,” Olds College farrier science co-ordinator Dean Sinclair said in the school’s release.
The college, he said, “already graduates some of the best farriers in North America but today’s industry needs them to be even better.”
B.C. farrier Mark Hobby, president of the Western Canadian Farriers Association, said in the same release that he believes new farriers “need more training than can currently be found on the continent.”
Olds College’s one-year program “is the best in North America by far,” he said, but added it’s “still not long enough, however. The proposed two-year program is essential if we are going to be fair to equines, owners and students.”
Louisiana farrier Richard Fanguy, president of the American Farrier’s Association, said in the same release that “all too often, farriers don’t survive their initial entrance into our profession because they arrive ill-prepared for success.”
Standards for farriers are considered higher in Europe, where they’re currently required to have four years of training and to be licensed, Olds College noted.
The Olds College program today takes just 16 students per year and applications usually exceed capacity, the school said.
“Existing familiarity with the farrier profession and horse and tool handling are just some of the areas of competency students will need to demonstrate prior to acceptance into the program.”