“No foot, no horse” takes special meaning to every horse owner while horse soundness is the business of farriers.
“Shoeing horses is a lot more than ‘just nailing a steel shoe on’ a hoof,” according to Max Andersen, Certified Journeyman Farrier of Manhattan.
“It’s not too hard to shoe a horse, but to correct and improve a horse’s movement becomes complex,” Andersen clarified.
“That’s the reason for the Kansas Farriers Association (KFA) and its defined mission,” said Andersen, president of the state group.
KFA’s set mission is:
“To promote and further the professional development of farriers through educational and certification avenues.
“To provide leadership and communication to advocate benefit of the farrier, their industry, the equine owner, and the equine.
“To vigilantly continue the traditional farrier art and science, embracing the innovations and research of today and tomorrow.”
The state organization is an affiliate of the American Farriers Association which conducts certification programs, Andersen said.
“This is strictly voluntary certification dedicated to the welfare of the horse,” he emphasized.
Certification testing is not a mandate or blueprint on how to shoe any individual horse.
“It is an objective assessment of specific skills necessary to perform the farrier job to a prescribed standard,” Andersen said. “Those meeting test requirements possess the ability to provide a healthy standard of hoof care.”
Farriers who pass the certification examination exhibit a “working knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology, gaits, and horseshoes,” Andersen informed. “They display the ability to identify, assess, trim, and protect structures of the hoof. The farriers demonstrate shoe fit and modifications to specific standards and patterns.”
Levels include Certified Farrier, beginning farriers; Tradesman Farrier, two years’ experience; and Journeyman Farrier, in-depth knowledge.
“The program includes written testing, forging and fitting a handmade shoe and shoeing the horse with that shoe,” Andersen said.
To increase public awareness about importance of correct shoeing and enhance farrier knowledge, a Kansas Farriers Association Contest is planned.
The competition will be at Salina during the Equifest of Kansas on March 5-6, Andersen said. About 30 farriers from throughout the country from as far away as California, Florida, Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin have pre-entered.
With novice, intermediate and open divisions planned, competition begins with forging a shoe out of a flat piece of steel. “It will be a judged event starting Friday morning, March 5,” Andersen said. “The top three individuals in each division on Friday will be invited back Saturday. These competitors will forge new shoes to fit a horse and then shoe that horse.”
Winners will be announced at a Saturday evening banquet with a fund-raising auction also planned at that time.
“No matter how many horses a farrier has shod, there is always more they can learn to help the horse,” Andersen said. “It’s easy for a farrier to get in a rut shoeing customer horses with cold keg shoes. But shoeing becomes much more difficult with horses that have foot and travel problems.”
Lifelong professional farriers find attendance at the certification programs and contests helps make them better farriers. “They have an opportunity to talk to other farriers and learn about various issues that they’ve worked with,” Andersen said.
Three main problems which farriers must deal with are abscesses, navicular and laminitis, according to Andersen.
“Knowledgeable farriers can generally correct or at least improve these issues,” he said. “While most horses are shod with keg shoes, a forged shoe is often necessary for more difficult problems.”
A professional farrier about four years, Andersen said the Kansas Farriers Association has 40 members. “They are concerned about continually improving their farrier’s skills while enhancing the horse’s movement and athletic ability,” he said.
Additional information about the Kansas Farriers Association Contest during Equifest at the Saline County Expo Center is available on Facebook.
“Everybody is welcome to come watch these farriers in action,” Andersen invited. “There is no charge to attend and the competition will be educational for all horse owners and farriers alike.”