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TOPIC: AFA News

RE:AFA News 30 Sep 2009 23:45 #46

  • Tom Stovall CJF
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Steve Kruas in gray

We had a lengthy discussion at the Board meeting about the above. First of all, when someone has been certified that is a title for life. Members who do not renew or non members who pass the exam will not be registered with the AFA. That means not listed on the AFA's website.


Why? The original intent of the AFA's certification process was dedicated to bettering the quality of farriery available to the industry, it wasn't intended to be the carrot on a stick meant to increase AFA membership or to bind anyone to the AFA for life. I know, I was there. In my starry-eyed naivete, I tested the first time the CF and CJF were offered in Texas (c1980, 1983) when it was open to the world: Had I known AFA certification would evolve into what amounts to nothing more than a de facto initiation into a good 'ol boy's club, I probably wouldn't have bothered. For the last 30 years, the AFA has done NOTHING to promote certification, while mindlessly promoting contests and a shoeing team that has zero impact on Hortense Horseowner. One wonders if the Board ever asks, "Why?"

AFA certification is comprised of the ONLY objectively quantified farrier's tests available in the Americas: If the AFA were really concerned about raising the quality of farriery available to the American public, they'd be touting AFA certification like it was the doorknob to heaven's gate and offering it to one and all, regardless of affiliation - instead, the Board's shortsighted restrictions serve only to damage AFA certification's credibility by raising the specter of organizational, not public, interest.

Ramnifications of this are still under discussion. Secondly, the AFA fee has been raised to $50 to cover increased costs.

Raise the costs? Again: Why? The AFA's entire certification history would fit on a four gig USB flash drive - which costs about $10. I realize the input of data might take a minute or so for each testee, but somebody's blowing some serious smoke with this "increased costs" business.

Tom you make some good points about not charging more for non members, but the non member fee will be $200.

Obviously, the AFA Board couldn't stand the thought of missing a chance to shoot itself in the foot when it had a chance to do something that would have increased the credibility of the AFA more than anything else it could have possibly done. Did any of y'all stop to think about the impact of your decision on the industry? Or, were you concerned only with swelling the ranks and/or coffers of the AFA? Whatever your motivation, you blew it.

We feel that we have put together the testing infrastructure and should charge non members more then members.

We feel? As I see it, the Board isn't thinking too straight and either doesn't know or care about service to the industry! Although the AFA is allegedly a service organization, the AFA Board apparently doesn't really give a damn about doing the horseowning public a service, altruism has never been a motivation, and the AFA's certification process is merely bait on the membership hook. Good grief! What the hell were y'all thinking?

If this strategy does not work, it will be revisited. The Board feels a reasonable exam fee should be a member benefit.

Steve, why'n hell would a process that was designed and intended to be of service to the INDUSTRY ever sink so low that it has become cheapened and bastardized to the point of being thought of as a "member benefit" by the AFA Board?

I appreciate your insight, Tom, so your input here is valued.


If AFA certification is to be considered credible, there can be no form, sort, shape or fashion of distinction between member and non-member testees. Either AFA certification serves to benefit the industry or it serves to benefit the AFA, there's not a helluva lot of middle ground. Does the Board want the AFA to be perceived as the leading farriery organization in the United States, dedicated to increasing the quality of farriery available to the American horseowner through AFA certification? Or, does the board want the AFA to be seen as selfish, shortsighted good 'ol boy's club whose certification program is intended only to benefit its membership, while paying lip service to the horseowning public and it's 501(C)(3) status?

As I see it, neither farriers nor he public are stoopid enough to buy into the Board's latest slight-of-hand and they'll see through the illogic and foolishness of the Board's moves before Bob gets the news.

Just damn! When Fanguy was elected, I had such hope for the AFA.
Tom Stovall, CJF
"The only foolish question is the one left unasked."
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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 00:21 #47

  • George Geist
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Mr Stovall,
If there's anything I can offer up in those people's defense I'd venture to guess this was probably the best deal they could come up with out of a room full of arguing people:rolleyes:

Compromise is what politics is all about. I'll agree with you that it sucks and will not acheive the desired objective you were hoping for, sometimes you gotta be happy when you gain some ground as you have here, then work for more later.;)
George
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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 10:52 #48

I don't know what the big hoopla is all about. A lot of farriers have no problem paying the AFA membership fee, testing fee, taking the time to study, practice, cost of propane, shoes, bar stock, travel, lodging and food expense to continue their education. In my opinion you get what you put into it. I believe their are several ways to view this whole ordeal and as of right now, not sure if I agree with you Tom. One can easily make the argument that the industry is better off with farriers that prove their willingness and passion for continuing education. Not by expecting a hand out or the organization to open it's doors and spoon feed people. The ones who really want to improve will do what ever it takes to get to their destination. For the record the journey does not have to be the AFA, education is expensive, however the alternative is much more costly.

Also for the record, I personally do not appreciate the ongoing attacks on an organization that has a pr oven track record of being one of the best if not the best form of continuing education and testing standard in the country. Farriers attacking their own kind does more harm to the trade.

Travis, here is your chance to see what I stand for. Lets see what other farriers stand for. I don't think we need pictures, video and rads for this one, however if it helps I will se what I can do.

Just my 2 cents worth.
Phil Armitage, CF
AFA member 7480

"Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it." Albert Schweitzer
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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 11:58 #49

  • Mike Ferrara
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Phil Armitage wrote:
I don't know what the big hoopla is all about. A lot of farriers have no problem paying the AFA membership fee, testing fee, taking the time to study, practice, cost of propane, shoes, bar stock, travel, lodging and food expense to continue their education. In my opinion you get what you put into it. I believe their are several ways to view this whole ordeal and as of right now, not sure if I agree with you Tom. One can easily make the argument that the industry is better off with farriers that prove their willingness and passion for continuing education. Not by expecting a hand out or the organization to open it's doors and spoon feed people. The ones who really want to improve will do what ever it takes to get to their destination. For the record the journey does not have to be the AFA, education is expensive, however the alternative is much more costly.

I think you hit on some key points which I bold-ed. Where I disagree is that an alternative is not necessarily more expensive. If you cut out the cost and time specific to the AFA testing, that's potentially money and time available for something else. Whether that "something else" is of greater or lessor benefit is pretty much up to you.

The only thing that is exclusive to a single option is AFA certification which, in itself, is of questionable value. If I understood some of these posts correctly those who test but don't join won't be listed by the AFA as certified? That's kind of like not being certified, isn't it?
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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 12:08 #50

  • Rick Burten
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Phil,

Would you be so kind as to expound on the continuing education the AFA offers.

Thanks,

Rick
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In the immortal words of Ron White: "But let me tell you something, folks: You can't fix S-tupid. There's not a pill you can take; there's not a class you can go to. S-tupid is forever."
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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 12:12 #51

Mike Ferrara wrote:
I think you hit on some key points which I bold-ed. Where I disagree is that an alternative is not necessarily more expensive. If you cut out the cost and time specific to the AFA testing, that's potentially money and time available for something else. Whether that "something else" is of greater or lessor benefit is pretty much up to you.

The only thing that is exclusive to a single option is AFA certification which, in itself, is of questionable value. If I understood some of these posts correctly those who test but don't join won't be listed by the AFA as certified? That's kind of like not being certified, isn't it?

Hi Mike, thanks for your reply. All I can tell you for certainty is my experience with certification. The journey not the destination is of value. I would be happy to share in detail if your interested. Being listed or not is not important. I am so appreciative of what I got out of certification, that I do not mind paying an annual fee to help keep it all going. :)
Phil Armitage, CF
AFA member 7480

"Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it." Albert Schweitzer
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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 12:13 #52

Rick Burten wrote:
Phil,

Would you be so kind as to expound on the continuing education the AFA offers.

Thanks,

Rick

I would be happy to. I suppose this thread would be as good as any to share it on.
Phil Armitage, CF
AFA member 7480

"Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it." Albert Schweitzer
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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 12:37 #53

  • unbridled
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Quote from Phil A: I don't know what the big hoopla is all about.

Phil,

IMO the "hoopla" is representative of the collective dissapoint of members, former members and onlookers with regard to the AFA. As a member, I ask "what really does the membership offer as a value in exchange for me dues?" If you really evaluate that question minus emotion, personalities and agendas -- it leads one to ask why the AFA exists?

In reality, I can network with any farriers from any organization, I can now take Certification as a non-member. As time passes I question the tangible value of the certification -- I say tangible in so much as it relates to earning power in business, the reason being --the AFA who administers it does not promote its value in a tangible way to the end user -- the horseowner, who ultimately funds farriers in business.

Of note, I found out first hand this summer that AFA credentials are not recognized or respected at NY racetracks. The AFA should be number one in farrier recognition at all racetracks. Why aren't they?

Also, I'd be interested to learn where Tom Stovall's explaination as to why the AFA Certification program was formed came from, I've heard a few different stories!
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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 12:52 #54

  • Mike Ferrara
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Phil Armitage wrote:
Hi Mike, thanks for your reply. All I can tell you for certainty is my experience with certification. The journey not the destination is of value. I would be happy to share in detail if your interested.

I'd enjoy hearing/reading about it anytime.

I am so appreciative of what I got out of certification, that I do not mind paying an annual fee to help keep it all going. :)

I can't think of a single thing wrong with that.
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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 12:55 #55

  • Tom Stovall CJF
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Phil Armitage in gray, stuff deleted

I don't know what the big hoopla is all about. A lot of farriers have no problem paying the AFA membership fee, testing fee, taking the time to study, practice, cost of propane, shoes, bar stock, travel, lodging and food expense to continue their education.

Did you take a survey to determine how many potential testee's had a "problem" with paying AFA dues in order to take a test allegedly in place for the betterment of farriery within the industry, not to benefit the AFA? In reality, the cost of continuing education is not logically related to the AFA's obvious attempt to benefit itself instead of the industry.

In my opinion you get what you put into it. I believe their are several ways to view this whole ordeal and as of right now, not sure if I agree with you Tom.

Agree or don't agree: the logic supporting my position is irrefutable. If the AFA's certification program is intended to benefit the industry, there can be no distinction between member and non-members; if it's intended to benefit the AFA, then it can make the distinction, but that distinction places the credibility of the certification program at risk.

One can easily make the argument that the industry is better off with farriers that prove their willingness and passion for continuing education.

The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, not in joining a cooking club. One demonstrates one's passion for education by attending classes, not by joining a fraternity.

Not by expecting a hand out or the organization to open it's doors and spoon feed people.

Have you read the AFA's mission statement lately? Did you read the part that says, "To further the professional development of farriers, to provide leadership and resources for the benefit of the farrier industry..."? Do you see anything in there that makes the distinction between member and non-member farriers? Since the word "farriers" is unmodified, it's meaning is all-inclusive, it means ALL farriers, not just AFA members. Perhaps both you and the Board members would do well to re-acquaint yourselves with the AFA's mission statement.

The ones who really want to improve will do what ever it takes to get to their destination.

The ones who really want to improve will wonder why an organization whose mission statement suggests service to the industry would use thinly-disguised fiscal subterfuge in order to force testees to either join the AFA in order to take the tests or not join the AFA in order to take the tests. Either way, the cost is the same and the distinction utterly defies logic.

For the record the journey does not have to be the AFA, education is expensive, however the alternative is much more costly.

Since you concede this point, your support of the AFA's stance requiring the same cash outlay for membership and testing or just testing implies your crotch will soon become sore from straddling the fence - you can't have it both ways!

Also for the record, I personally do not appreciate the ongoing attacks on an organization

For the record, I don't give a damn if you, or anyone else, appreciates my ongoing attacks against the Board's wrongheaded decision to force folks to join the AFA in order to test. I'm not an AFA member, but I'm fully vested in the AFA's certification program - which means that whenever it pleases me to do so, I'm going to point out the Board's decision is foolish and ill-conceived because it places the credibility of the AFA's certification program at risk!

that has a proven track record of being one of the best if not the best form of continuing education and testing standard in the country.

While the quality of the AFA's testing standards is unassailable, the administration of the program is not; furthermore, education at the grassroots level has historically been the province of the local, state, and regional farrier organizations, NOT the AFA.

Farriers attacking their own kind does more harm to the trade.


Are you incapable of differentiating between an attack on a decision and an attack on a person? The former is logical; the latter is a logical fallacy, agrumentum ad hominem. I know and respect several Board members, but I do not respect their decisions relative to eligibility and cost. If this causes folks to question the Board's decision and its callous disregard for the AFA's mission statement, perhaps they'll reconsider it. If not, then maybe the Board should change the AFA's mission statement in order to reflect the fact that the Board's primary concern is with certification's benefit to the AFA, not the industry.
Tom Stovall, CJF
"The only foolish question is the one left unasked."
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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 13:29 #56

  • Gary_Miller
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unbridled wrote:
IMO the "hoopla" is representative of the collective dissapoint of members, former members and onlookers with regard to the AFA. As a member, I ask "what really does the membership offer as a value in exchange for me dues?" If you really evaluate that question minus emotion, personalities and agendas -- it leads one to ask why the AFA exists?
Susan, you hit the nail right on the head. These questions are exactly what I asked myself last April when my AFA membership was due. The answer for me at that time was NO. While I like the idea of being certified and I think the AFA has the best certification program. To me membership was not worth the money just to be certified.
Gary Miller, PF

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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 13:38 #57

unbridled wrote:
Quote from Phil A: I don't know what the big hoopla is all about.

Phil,

IMO the "hoopla" is representative of the collective dissapoint of members, former members and onlookers with regard to the AFA. As a member, I ask "what really does the membership offer as a value in exchange for me dues?" If you really evaluate that question minus emotion, personalities and agendas -- it leads one to ask why the AFA exists?

In reality, I can network with any farriers from any organization, I can now take Certification as a non-member. As time passes I question the tangible value of the certification -- I say tangible in so much as it relates to earning power in business, the reason being --the AFA who administers it does not promote its value in a tangible way to the end user -- the horseowner, who ultimately funds farriers in business.

Of note, I found out first hand this summer that AFA credentials are not recognized or respected at NY racetracks. The AFA should be number one in farrier recognition at all racetracks. Why aren't they?

Also, I'd be interested to learn where Tom Stovall's explaination as to why the AFA Certification program was formed came from, I've heard a few different stories!

The AFA is not reconized is because it is NON-RACING certification and is not applicable on the racetracks.

Only the Union test; after a 5 year apprentiship, is applicable because it deals with swaging out racing plates by hand, 2 front bar shoes, and 2 block and sticker hind shoes, punched and 4 brazed in toe-grabs; and shoe the horse in 6 hours in front of 2 stewards and the paddock blacksmith. This is the only reconized journeyman horseshoeing test for platers, and afterwards you will receive a licenced from that state to shoe at that track.
This is a only test since
1874!!!; that the USA and Canada, reconizes.

Since the abolishment of this test, because is was not politically correct to test farriers who wanted to shoe racehorses; we now have many more incorrectly shod racehorses and many more breakdowns at the track.

There is a correct way to shoe a racehorse to minimize any type of breakdown.
We had a test in racing to separate the blacksmiths for the iron hangers.

What needs to happen is to bring the high standards in the Union testing back to the racetrack.

Linda Marie, IUJH journeyman horseshoer and plater.

PS: I know and can do the Union test!!!!
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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 13:40 #58

  • Gary_Miller
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Phil Armitage wrote:
One can easily make the argument that the industry is better off with farriers that prove their willingness and passion for continuing education.
Phil, your right in that the Farrier Industry is better off when farriers seek continuing education. However, your wrong when you think the AFA provides that continuing education. With the exception of the Annual AFA Convention the AFA provides no, that would be none, continuing education. For the most part the local associations provide the continuing education, at least that's where I get all of my continuing education.

Our association does two clinics a year and a hammer-in every other month. All sponsored and paid for by the local association and it members.
Gary Miller, PF

Ride hard, shoot straight, and always speak the truth.
Gunfighter Motto

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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 15:18 #59

  • unbridled
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And here is the part of the "AFA Certification" equation I take issue with -- it is a real dilemma from all viewpoints.

How does one really place a value on one being "Certified by the AFA" when it is a test on one day of one person's skill at one point in time? Essentially, they studied, practiced and passed. Other than personal pride and integrity -- what incentive does the CJF have to keep up the level of skill it took to pass the test in his/her everyday work when the horseowning public is mostly unaware of that level of work and the use of handmade shoes? The farrier keeps his credentials whether or not he/she is an AFA member and keeps his/her credentials whether he/she increase or decreases in skill.

I will tell you from personal experience as a horse owner that I have fired CFs and seen the work of CJFs that is really bad. I am not sharing this to knock the program bc I feel it is a super test of skill and great feat for any individual to acheive. I am sharing to make the point that IMO without standardized and/or recognized/recorded continuing eduction/updates and/or re-certification (for lack of better word) the general public can be misled by the suffix.

As a horseowner in the certification process myself, the credentials would really make an impact if they were tied to a public type database of farriers with the credentials and passing grades on updates thereafter. Much like a "board certified" plastic surgeon for example.

What are your objective thoughts on this when you look at the overall horse industry we serve?
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RE:AFA News 01 Oct 2009 16:37 #60

  • Rick Burten
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Richard Mercer wrote:
Once one obtains a drivers license, there is no requirement to update other than pay a fee to the issuing authority.
Don't know about Maryland, but here in Illinois, you can be required to take any or all parts of the license exam(written, vision, driving) when you renew your license.
The posession of the credential has no impact on how one may operate a motor vehicle once the test is passed.
Sure it does. There are laws and regulations on the books regarding the safe and proper operation of an automobile. Get caught breaking one or more of them and the penalties can range from a slap on the hand to jail time.
It can only be revoked by an authoritative body if negligence is proved.
Not true. At least, not true here in Illinois. Unless of course you consider breaking the law to be negligence on your part, in which case, you are indeed correct.
In this country there is no way to revoke a (farrier's) certification
Not true. The By Laws of the AFA do indeed provide a mechanism for credential revocation. So do the By Laws of the Guild of Professional Farriers, Inc.
or their means to work on horses, despite perceived negligence, and that's another can of worms for another day.
Not true. A court of competent authority can issue a ruling preventing the individual from engaging in the profession, and has the full weight of law enforcement to back up said ruling.

In the State of Illinois, when licensing by the state was required, if, when asked, a farrier could not produce his/her licence, said individual could be incarcerated and at a minimum, forced to pack his/her tools and go home.
Veterinarians are required to CE.
And the GPF, Inc. has the same requirement.
The AFA has the only ( American)credential recognized by the Worshipful Company of Farriers
Do you know how and why that first came about? If not, you might want to look into it.
Regardless of how I feel about the testing " standard" I enjoy the studying, testing and the socialization and networking that comes with it. I continue to ignore the inane political bickering here and elswhere and continue to avail myself of the positive aspects offered. My work has improved with the challenge of certification.
And with that I have no quarrel. :)

Rick
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