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TOPIC: Certification Question for Tom Stovall

Certification Question for Tom Stovall 26 Dec 2006 17:21 #1

  • George Geist
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Mr Stovall,
At various times on these boards you have repeatedly stated in stong terms your belief in the merits of AFA certification. You believe that it is an industry benefit. In theory I would tend to agree Lately though I have seen a bit of a problem. Allow me to use a rodeo analogy to explain.

Back in your day, The PRCA was the premier association a cowboy could belong to. If one filled his permit and became a card holder it was understood that he had "made the pros". In those days there was a rule that card holders were forbidden to compete at non-sanctioned rodeos or jackpots.

This had its hardest impact on rough stock cowboys because timeys could do it in their backyards. Roughstock riders had to go to rodeos.

In those days and for a while thereafter, anything non-PRCA was referred to as "amateur".

Around the time I started riding a supreme court decision came down against the PRCA making it illegal for them to have such a rule as they couldn't constitutionally stop someone from making a living. As a result, guys could then rodeo wherever they wanted to, no more need to use phoney names and so forth.

Problem I saw happen there was as follows: Spectators really didn't know or care, one rodeo was the same as another to them. Cowboys for the most part welcomed it as they just wanted to ride and didn't care for who.
The PRCA still used belittling terms like "amateur" but really couldn't keep their standing as the premier sanctioning body forever.

What in the world does any of this have to do with anything? Ok coming to it now.

The AFA has a certification program that could have been a model for the industry, on that point we agree. We now also have certification by BWFA, Natural BS, BUA, many horseshoeing schools, etc. etc. I half expect to see certification to use a flush toilet coming out soon.

Just as in rodeo, the public doesn't care and many horseshoers don't either. Some collect certifications from everybody, some from nobody, some just to the club they feel a loyalty to.

I guess all I'm really trying to ask you is this: Do you think in the face of what has been done by all these other groups muddying the waters as they have that it has served to diminish (at least in the public eye) the weight of an AFA credential?

And if so, could an aggressive promotional campaign now instead of 15 years ago when it should have happened be an excercise in futility akin to shutting the barn door after the horse gets out?
George
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 26 Dec 2006 18:06 #2

  • Tom Stovall CJF
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George Geist in gray

At various times on these boards you have repeatedly stated in stong terms your belief in the merits of AFA certification. You believe that it is an industry benefit. In theory I would tend to agree Lately though I have seen a bit of a problem.

It remains my opinion that the AFA CF credential could be a boon to the industry.

Allow me to use a rodeo analogy to explain.

Back in your day, The PRCA was the premier association a cowboy could belong to. If one filled his permit and became a card holder it was understood that he had "made the pros". In those days there was a rule that card holders were forbidden to compete at non-sanctioned rodeos or jackpots.


In my day, it wasn't necessary to fill one's permit, one could simply buy a card. An RCA permit holder could work any rodeo he wanted, including those RCA rodeos that accepted permits in their event(s). After a permit holder earned $1,000 at RCA rodeos, he was ineligible to work RCA rodeos unless he bought a card. Some of us filled several permits while stock contractors looked the other way due to a scarcity of bronc riders in South Texas. :)

This had its hardest impact on rough stock cowboys because timeys could do it in their backyards. Roughstock riders had to go to rodeos.

You're correct in that an RCA cardholder could work jackpots, even added money jackpots, as long as they didn't have more than one standard rodeo event (as well as matches, high school, college, Indian, Black, gay, etc. rodeos) without penalty.

In those days and for a while thereafter, anything non-PRCA was referred to as "amateur".

True.

Around the time I started riding a supreme court decision came down against the PRCA making it illegal for them to have such a rule as they couldn't constitutionally stop someone from making a living. As a result, guys could then rodeo wherever they wanted to, no more need to use phoney names and so forth.

Also true.

Problem I saw happen there was as follows: Spectators really didn't know or care, one rodeo was the same as another to them. Cowboys for the most part welcomed it as they just wanted to ride and didn't care for who.
The PRCA still used belittling terms like "amateur" but really couldn't keep their standing as the premier sanctioning body forever.

The PBR is living proof that knocking other folks doesn't do much for one's image.

What in the world does any of this have to do with anything? Ok coming to it now.

The AFA has a certification program that could have been a model for the industry, on that point we agree. We now also have certification by BWFA, Natural BS, BUA, many horseshoeing schools, etc. etc. I half expect to see certification to use a flush toilet coming out soon.


Just as in rodeo, the public doesn't care and many horseshoers don't either. Some collect certifications from everybody, some from nobody, some just to the club they feel a loyalty to.

True to some extent, hence my call for a massive slick rag campaign touting the benefits of the AFA's CF program. A few ads in the Western Horseman and Equus would go a long way towards educating the public on the benefits of knowing a prospective farrier actually knows which way to turn a nail, especially if somebody from the AFA managed to get the ear of an editor or two and the AFA's program - including the reasons for its existence - found its way into the editorial pages. Favorable mention on the editorial pages is the Holy Grail of anyone pushing an agenda.

I guess all I'm really trying to ask you is this: Do you think in the face of what has been done by all these other groups muddying the waters as they have that it has served to diminish (at least in the public eye) the weight of an AFA credential?

I'm like you in that I don't think today's public knows or give a damn about the AFA - or anyone else's - certification programs. With that thought in mind, it appears to me that if the AFA would devote its resources to making the public aware of its program, the fruits of such a campaign would be twofold: First, the public would discover there's a better way of finding a farrier than by checking out the business cards on the feed store's bulletin board; second, once the public discovered they could find a decent farrier by insisting on an AFA certified farrier, many - if not most - working farriers would find an immediate fiscal benefit by joining the AFA and standing for the CF test, and the AFA's ranks would swell. As I've stated before, it could be a win/win deal.

And if so, could an aggressive promotional campaign now instead of 15 years ago when it should have happened be an excercise in futility akin to shutting the barn door after the horse gets out?

I don't think the public knows there's a barn, much less that there's a horse in the barn. It's not too late for the AFA to launch a campaign, all they lack is fortitude, determination, and leadership. :)
Tom Stovall, CJF
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 26 Dec 2006 19:15 #3

  • Gary Hill
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Stopped at home now to enjoy a few leftovers from the feasts my family has had this weekend.
I just left a job that the last farrier was a CJF and they were not too happy with the work he was producing for them ? Alot of lost shoes and other reasons I did not ask. Feet on these horses are for the most part as common as any other. One does have crummy feet and I really sweated shoeing her the first time I did! :eek: But now after 3 shoeings and the Finals where the horse and rider finished in the top 6, I have a really good account and the trainer rides lots of outside horses, so that ain't bad marketing? Bottom line I'm getting to is, we are only as good as the last horse we shod. Hope y'all had a great Christmas with family and friends! Best, Gary
"As I see it, winners get the money - while losers talk of "individual goals" and similar stuff." Tom Stovall
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 27 Dec 2006 22:33 #4

  • George Geist
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Mr Stovall,
Thanks for the history. I never knew there was a time that cards could be bought outright. When I was around it was only clowns and contract acts that did that. Competing members had to earn it through filling their permit which alot of them didn't like to do because a card cost more.

Anyway, I was quite taken aback by those figures Ron posted on the other thread. Taken at face value, which I dont think we have any reason not to, it proves the AFA to be composed of a huge majority of people with minimal experience.

Feeling as you do about their certification, would you support making it compulsory as a condition of membership in an effort to improve that group's legitimacy? And if not why not?
George
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 28 Dec 2006 19:01 #5

  • Tom Stovall CJF
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George Geist in gray, deletia

Feeling as you do about their certification, would you support making it compulsory as a condition of membership in an effort to improve that group's legitimacy?

No.

And if not why not?

Too exclusionary. The AFA is not a farriers' organization, it's a farriery organization with a much broader mission than the betterment of the lot of its farrier members. To be sure, it could be doing a helluva lot more for its farrier members by extolling the virtues of its certification program and instituting some form of insurance - but as farriery organization, it can attempt to bring some measure of standardization to the farrier schools, educate the public, and work closer with vet schools across the country, etc. Among other things. :)
Tom Stovall, CJF
"The only foolish question is the one left unasked."
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 29 Dec 2006 17:04 #6

  • George Geist
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Mr Stovall,
Agreed, you're correct on those points. But whats in a name? American "Farriers Association". If this is not what they are perhaps a name change might be in order.

I certainly dont expect everybody to be world class but I do expect that members of a farriers association should at the very least be in fact farriers.

By this I can say to his credit that at least Ralph Casey does differentiate between horse owners and farriers in his group as well as waving his certification flag pretty high.

This along with the never ending turmoil I think makes me glad to be a non-member.
George
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 30 Dec 2006 09:17 #7

  • Mike Ferrara
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Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
I'm like you in that I don't think today's public knows or give a damn about the AFA - or anyone else's - certification programs. With that thought in mind, it appears to me that if the AFA would devote its resources to making the public aware of its program, the fruits of such a campaign would be twofold: First, the public would discover there's a better way of finding a farrier than by checking out the business cards on the feed store's bulletin board; second, once the public discovered they could find a decent farrier by insisting on an AFA certified farrier, many - if not most - working farriers would find an immediate fiscal benefit by joining the AFA and standing for the CF test, and the AFA's ranks would swell. As I've stated before, it could be a win/win deal.

The only portion of the horse owning public that I know of who gets farriers from the feed store bulletin board is a few backyard folks who, for any number of reasons, have trouble getting or keeping any farrier. In the case of these folks, they often know of the farriers in the area with the best reputations and have often been through them but the only way they can get anyone is to go after the new farriers and that means using bulletin boards.

As an example, any saddlebred barn that I know of probably knows, or knows of, most farriers in a two or three state area who shoes saddlebreds and they are going to pick from that pool. Being AFA certified isn't going to get you into that pool. You have to shoe some saddlebreds.

The same would be true for other breeds and even the larger boarding barns. None of these folks are looking for farriers on websites or bulletin boards as far as I know.

It's your reputation that gets you into most of these accounts. They'd have to be pretty desperate to go with an unknown (certified or not) especially when the certification doesn't tell them what they want to know. If you're new the certification that gets you in is the certification you get by working with or being recommended by a farrier (or owner/trainer) who does have a reputation in that discipline. I don't think it would be any different if every horse owner on the face of the planet knew about the AFA certification.

Beyond that, I think you'd find plenty of people (farriers and horse owners) who would argue that it hasn't been demonstrated that AFA certified farriers are, in fact, better (on average) than non certified farriers. As I see it the AFA would be taking some risk by conducting such a campaign. If they say publically that AFA certified farriers are better, that had better prove to be true. I wonder if they're really ready to do that.

On the other hand, if I wanted to attract clients looking for an NB shoer, I would get NB certified to get on the list. That's a certification in a specific protocol that some horse owners might be looking for.

Personally, I think the bottom line is that the AFA certification doesn't answer a question that anybody is asking.
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 30 Dec 2006 09:44 #8

  • ThomasRideandDrive
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It's your reputation that gets you into most of these accounts. They'd have to be pretty desperate to go with an unknown (certified or not) especially when the certification doesn't tell them what they want to know. If you're new the certification that gets you in is the certification you get by working with or being recommended by a farrier (or owner/trainer) who does have a reputation in that discipline. I don't think it would be any different if every horse owner on the face of the planet knew about the AFA certification.

With the current situation of qualification not being obligatory and the cir***stances described above by Mike, how would a new farrier get established in the first place?

What does the AFA currently do in terms of reaching the general horse owning public as far as raising awareness etc?
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 30 Dec 2006 10:44 #9

  • Mike Ferrara
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Thomas_Ride&Drive wrote:
With the current situation of qualification not being obligatory and the cir***stances described above by Mike, how would a new farrier get established in the first place?

I can only tell you what my experience is here. When I was new, all of my good accounts were had either directly or indirectly because of my association with the guy who taught me. He got me in the door. How did he get in the door? He grew up in the saddlebred business and, as I remember the story, his father set up an apprenticeship for him with a guy in Kentucky. He went from there to working for a local saddlebred shoer and then went on his own. Eventually he took over his dads barn. I mucked stalls for him and he offered to teach me to shoe horses. I kept working for him (read as mucking stalls) while I learned. I eventually started shoeing border horses and from there took outside accounts and went on my own.

Having been gone for a bunch of years and comming back, it's still that way. I started taking clients again a while before deciding to go back to shoeing full time. That decission wasn't made until I found out my job was going away. All I had was some local stuff. Some are ok accounts but nothing that a guy could ever make a living off of. Most were the twice a year whether they need it or not trims...beer money maybe. When my old teacher found out I was going back to shoeing I went and traveled with him some and he got me into a couple of good accounts. I got a couple of other good accounts through those accounts. Those are the accounts that pay the bills. For the second time, he got me in the door.

If he (or guys like him) issued a certification, it might be a certification that would carry some weight.

Ask some more basic questions though. How would a new guy even learn to shoe a saddlebred show horse or a morgan, national show horse, arab, race horse, gaming horse, drafts, lameness or whatever. Do they teach it in the farrier schools? If you do somehow learn how, how is anyone going to know? Does the AFA have any certifications in those areas? No, you can go to a school and learn to put on plates and you can go to the AFA to get certified in putting on plates. I don't know anybody in the horse business who cares.

As I say, I don't think the AFA cert answers a question that anyone is asking.
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 30 Dec 2006 12:33 #10

  • T.N. Trosin
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Mike Ferrara wrote:
As I say, I don't think the AFA cert answers a question that anyone is asking.

Well your right Mike, saddle horse folks arn't going to bump around the AFA web site, shoeing is too specialized, but there are people going to the site to find a farrier. I have been called and emailed quite a bit from the AFA site. Actually about 2 referals a month on average. Most of the people who are contacting me actually do becuase they want a certified farrier. Sadly I have had to disapoint them all becuase either I'm more expensive than they preceived I should be, or that I have been too busy or both. At any rate Certification is starting to work to the point where I am going to try to get several of the locals to ceritify.
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 30 Dec 2006 13:20 #11

  • Tom Stovall CJF
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Mike Ferrara in gray, deletia

As I say, I don't think the AFA cert answers a question that anyone is asking.

True at present, hence my suggestion to create a demand for AFA certified farriers by advertising. Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

You make a very good point concerning the extremely unlikely event of anyone's engaged in an esoteric show discipline finding a farrier on the feed store bulletin board - but those folks comprise a comparatively small market. As you know, the show ASB, TWH, and other long footed communities are like small towns in which everyone knows everyone else, including the farriers servicing the specialty. Your premise is still valid, but to a lesser degree, with the more popular disciplines like racing, H/J, Arabs, dressage, etc. - but those aren't the folks who would be appreciably affected by the AFA's creating a demand for certified farriers.

The largest segment of the 9.2 million horses in the US are not engaged in any specialty, they are termed "recreational horses" by the American Horse Council. The owners of these horses appear to be desperately seeking capable farriers and one has only to peruse the Internet's horse related bulletin boards and chat rooms to come to the conclusion that these folks are having to kiss a bunch of frogs before they find a handsome prince when it comes to finding somebody who knows which way to turn a nail.

By and large, this forum is made up of folks who can shoe a horse, but I'd bet the farm that if each of us were polled on our opinion of the quality of farriery available to most recreational horses, the overall opinion of the quality of farriery found in that market would range from "abysmal" to "poor." The sad reality is that there are a helluva bunch of hacks out there and they're not working on show horses, they're butchering the feet of backyard horses and giving farriery a bad name. Doubts? Check out the horror stories on COTH or any of the many BUA sites.

Please understand that it's not my contention that an AFA CF makes anyone a good farrier, but earning the credential is indicative of basic ability and it's a damn good place for an owner to start sifting.
Tom Stovall, CJF
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 30 Dec 2006 14:20 #12

  • reillyshoe
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I am sure the basic requirments of choosing a farrier vary by geography. In my experience, I have never been asked by a prospective client or vet if I was certified or not. From the perspective of most of my clients, certification is irrelevant. Even if the AFA could raise the awareness of horse owners as to the importance of hiring a certified farrier, the reality is there are not enough certified farriers to accomodate the needs (as Trosin noted).

Here is a dilemma- the AFA is big enough to be the largest US farrier orginization, but is also too small to have a substanitive impact on the industry. Too small for certification to matter, too small to be able to offer good benefit packages, too small to have much political impact representing farriers to either the government (like the AEEP, for example) or to the equine industry (like the AHSA).
What can be done to fix this?
P
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 30 Dec 2006 14:21 #13

  • Tom Stovall CJF
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George Geist in gray, deletia

Agreed, you're correct on those points. But whats in a name? American "Farriers Association". If this is not what they are perhaps a name change might be in order.

The AFA has more name recognition than any other group of farriers; thus, a name change to better reflect their mission would be ill-advised. The public doesn't know the difference; the members don't care.

I certainly dont expect everybody to be world class but I do expect that members of a farriers association should at the very least be in fact farriers.

I believe the vast majority of the AFA's membership are farriers.

By this I can say to his credit that at least Ralph Casey does differentiate between horse owners and farriers in his group as well as waving his certification flag pretty high.

Casey can wave his certification flag to high heaven, but the fact he's sold his credential makes it so tainted as to be meaningless to some and indictment to others.

This along with the never ending turmoil I think makes me glad to be a non-member.

I think the AFA is at a crossroads right now. If they can install leadership with vision, figure out some way to make the legislative process less c┬Ámbersome, and change their focus from contesting to education, they could be an extremely beneficial organization to farriers, owners, and the industry as a whole.

As an unrelated addendum, several folks have noted that medical/hospitalization insurance cost and coverage varies from state to state. As I recall, the insurance in the PRCA and IPRA covers contestants while traveling to and from rodeos and while competing, it does not cover members 24/7. Additionally, insurance coverage is not optional, it's mandatory - meaning every member's dues are used to pay for the policy and every member is covered by the policy, no matter what other coverage they may have. Perhaps the issue of coverage could be approached in this manner.

When the IRA first offered insurance to its membership on this basis, there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth from some about having to pay for other's insurance when they were already covered by a policy from some other source. At time, it was pointed out that while it may be unfair for a few individuals to be taxed for something that primarily benefits other members of a group, the benefits to the group as a whole are cost-beneficial to every individual, whatever his coverage. (At the time, I remember arguing that I'd rather pay more in dues than go to another damn benefit or watch somebody lose a place because their medical bills ate them up.) As I see it, we are our brothers' keepers.
Tom Stovall, CJF
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 30 Dec 2006 14:31 #14

  • Mike Ferrara
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The general quality of farriery...

I don't know. The farriers I usually cross paths with are pretty good and that's the work I see most other than my own. Since I was gone a long time and recently came back, I'd have to consider myself the least experienced of the bunch.

When I take a new backyard account, it's usually been so long since any farrier has been there that I can't tell anything about their work. It's hard to make generalities because every backyard is different but around here it seems they want cheap, the working conditions are bad to downright dangerous and the horses are often ill-mannered or flat out rank. Of course they want you there in the evening or on the weekend. The most common complaints I hear about other farriers from backyarders are centered around dependability or how they treated the horse. I thought there were just a bunch of farriers running around abusing horses but refer back to what I said about rank.

Around here quit a few people go to the Amish and some even do it themselves or it just doesn't get done at all. I get quit a few calls from folks who think I'm too expensive.

Maybe what I see isn't representative but I don't think those people are willing to do what they need to do to keep a good farrier, certified or otherwise. At least some percentage scrounge the bottom of the barrel by choice and then complain that they can't find a good farrier. On close examination you see that what they really mean is that they can't find a farrier to work evenings and weekends for $20/head who won't complain about standing in the mud and cold wind/hot sun while getting his/her butt kicked by some half broke snake and do a good job. LOL
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RE:Certification Question for Tom Stovall 30 Dec 2006 14:45 #15

  • George Geist
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Mike,
Sounds like you've been working my neighborhood! LMAO.

Actually this is a growing problem also. Basic horsemanship skills and basic animal husbandry has declined to a sickening level out there. It seems to get worse and worse every year too.

Working for a genuine horseman is a pleasure but their getting more and more scarce. This is a serious problem in this industry. Anybody have any solutions to it? I know I sure don't.
George
For another fun place to play........
www.horseshoersforum.invisionzone.com
Come over and say hello.
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