One of the most important aspects of owning a horse is having a good farrier that is not only reliable but is also knowledgeable about hoof care, shoeing , trimming and, if necessary, therapeutic management.
Not all horse owner recognise a good farrier, and work by unskilled farriers can lead to damage to the horse's way of going and even cause the horse to be unsound for performance or showing. But farriers are a necessity in all horse owner's lives and, while there are recognised courses and apprenticeships to accredit farriers, it is still a case of anyone can pick up a rasp and a leather apron and start work as a farrier.
As most horse owners know, if you find a good farrier then you make sure you keep him or her happy so you can retain their services.
Farriers' knowledge and understanding of the horse's movement and anatomy are all instrumental in them maintaining good hoof care. They will also need forging skills as they can be presented with cases that require an understanding of anatomical terms and to be able to make a large variety of therapeutic shoes .
Concern within the industry has led many to embrace The Farrier's International Testing System, (FITS), which is designed to provide acceptable practical and written tests to farrier associations and organisations around the world. FITS was created with the aim of helping the horse by encouraging study and learning in individual farriers that are pursuing FITS certifications. It will lend credibility to those that achieve a level of certification, allowing other farriers and horse owners to know that the individual farrier has exhibited their skills, and been found competent.
The system involves up-skilling followed by practical, theory and oral assessments. The testing is in two parts - a Cf for a Certified Farrier and a Asf for an Advanced Skilled Farrier.
FITS has evolved into a growing educational pathway for farriers, not only in Australia but also Brazil, South Africa, America and Canada. The advantage of being involved in this process is that it is a common standard, recognised wherever they wish to work around the world.
In 2013 FITS examiner, Chris Gregory (USA), ran the first Australian exam in Richmond, NSW.
Spearheading the concept in Australian are four working farriers, Bob Sim from NSW; Stephen Riggs from QLD; Adam Tighe also from QLD; and Kim Broad from WA. The roll of Kim, Stephen and Bob is as assessors for the FITS program and they can be called upon to assess farriers anywhere around the world .
Each year FITS Australia aims to hold two exams, which allows Australian farrier candidates to sit their exams within our country, although theoretically they can sit the exams in any participating country.
The next exam in Australia is in NSW on the 14-16 August and in WA on 20-22 August.
Farriers have to be given credit for taking control of their own education and having a desire to see a higher standard for their trade, which will ultimately be beneficial to the health of the horse.
While the farrier may do the actual work, the ultimate responsibility for a horse's healthy hooves rests with the horse owner's selection of that farrier. Having an easily understood accreditation as a guide, plus a system that encourages continual up-skilling, will make this selection a far easier task in the future.
If you have any queries about Fits or farriers that have been a part of this process , you can call the following FITS committee members.
Kim 0418 956 247
Bob 0408 437 818
Steve 0417 428 005
Adam 0438 536 489