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The Michigan Horseshoers Association presents articles written for the benefit of Farriers and horse owners. Check our articles and see what advice has been written up for your benefit, and the benefit of the health of your horse. Take advantage of all the information that you find and share your experience and knowledge by providing us with your write-up too.


certification: certified journeyman farrier

by Doug Russo, CJF

I am proud to say I am one of the few certified journeymen farriers in Michigan belonging to the American Farriers Association (AFA).  At this time I believe there are about ten to twelve of us working.  Don’t be fooled by other knock off certifications. 

For your benefit and mine I’m going to give you a brief history (whether you want it or not).  The Michigan Horseshoers Association (MHA) was the first in the US.  It started over 40 years ago.  As I write this article, the MHA is approaching its 43rd year.  It was also the first to start a voluntary certification system. The American Farriers Association was formed 2 years later and largely modeled their association and certification after the MHA . 

Poorly trained farriers have always presented a problem.  Unfortunately the problem seems to be getting worse.

Certification is a way for farriers to prove their level of competence to the horse owner as well as other equine professionals without involving a licensing system. 

The AFA has three levels: certified, certified tradesman and certified journeyman.  Out of approximately 2500 members currently in the AFA there is a little over 500 certified farriers and a little over 500 journeymen. 

The AFA’s certification is the only certification endorsed by the American Association of Equine Practitioners.  It is the only certification recognized in the UK by the Worshipful Company of Farriers and the Farrier Registration Council.  This is significant because the UK has a licensing system to become a farrier.  The UK requires 4 years apprenticeship under an approved mentor during which they must complete a national vocational qualification level 3 in farriery and a diploma examination in the last year.

As an AFA certified journeyman farrier I can legally shoe horses in the UK.  AFA certified journeyman farriers were the only ones allowed to work the world games when they came to Kentucky.  I would encourage you to go to the AFAs website and read a more thorough description of these levels. Since the AFA developed their certification many schools as well as other associations followed suite many of them have no time limit on their practical test some simply give out certifications upon completion of their curriculum.  Some have as little as a two week computer correspondence course and their graduates are certified. This means not only should you ask if a farrier is certified but who they are certified with.  Having said all that, there are lots of good qualified farriers out there who have not taken the time to become certified.

Re-posted with permission

Doug russo's l bar s miniature cattle website