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TOPIC: Testing for other organizations

Testing for other organizations 31 Mar 2007 10:59 #1

  • George Geist
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Ladies and Gentlemen,

I put this here instead of in general discussion because I have a feeling this might get a bit heated.

First of all, do we have any BWFA certified guys out there who actually took any of their tests? If so, I for one would like to hear about it. Tell us all what it was like, were you treated fairly etc.

Also, Rick Burten and any other Illinois guys out there. Out at IHCS I met a guy from Illinois who told me some very interesting stuff about the old Illinois state test. Can you guys talk about that as well?

George
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RE:Testing for other organizations 31 Mar 2007 12:19 #2

  • vthorseshoe
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George,

I am going to play devils advocate here to get this rolling.

A few yrs back Ralph Casey came to Vermont and put on a testing.
I went down to see and participate.
I was given a horse to trim and shoe after I took a written exam that was similar to the one I took at my CF exam.
I never did see or hear what my results were on the written and or my shoeing exam.
I am certified in the BWFA as a Journeyman II.
Being over age 50 I also paid for a life membership. Not very expensive.

To keep bringing up the BWFA and comparing them to any other organization is a tired effort.
Let me explain my thoughts for a minute.

I am going to give the good side of the BWFA first, so bear with me. (a small pun, don't start growling)

The BWFA has been on the leading edge of getting things out to the public and its members for a very long time.
TV (they are still on TV, where is the AFA TV program ? )
INTERNET (a modern , constantly updated web site that is interesting and fresh, When was the last time the AFA website was totally updated ? Still have things on the page from 2002 last time I looked.)
NEWS LETTERS ( I get monthly newsletters from the BWFA, the AFA is sporadic and disrupted by internal squabbles and most recently corruption by a publisher)
A LOCALIZED CENTER for farriers to come at anytime and learn and work on different types of problems. (where does all the money we pay into the AFA end up ? Is there a place for members to visit for some sort of advanced learning ? I know clinics go on but they are at chapter level not by the AFA itself.
Even the booths at the horse events and expo's are on chapter level.

Ralph himself has been a traveling PROMOTER, SALESMAN, ADVOCATE.
Not just occasionally, but constantly on the go all over the country.

WHEN HAVE YOU HEARD PUBLICLY OF ANY DISENTION in the BWFA ?

I have NEVER heard the BWFA ATTACK the AFA or the GUILD or the JOURNEYMAN'S UNION.
Yet the whiole bunch of you have always at one time or another degraded an organization that in reality is better run than the others.

The AFA hasn't been able to keep a real program going other than shoeing contests.
You say Insurance ? The BWFA did it long before the AFA and even had an injured farriers fund that actually works.

The Guild was kinda standing in limbo until Tom Bloomer joined and revitalized it and seems to be doing all the promoting.
Yes, they didn't want to be large and didn't want every Tom Dick and Harry as a member. But has that changed ? Testing is being done where anyone with an interest can get it set up. The testing is at journeyman level and above and thus still keeping it elite from the rest.

The Journey'sman union, Heck George. Your the only one I hear who promotes it. I am sure you have members but, as i understand it, your benifits come from the tie's with other unions combined.
Is it a real organization or one that survives on the shirt tails of the other unions ?
Could you offer all you say if the other unions dropped the Farriers Journeyman Union from their ranks ? Could your union stand alone without the aide from other unions and their large numbers or would you fade into obsurity ?
George, What form of certification or testing for does the Journeyman's Union do ? Or is it merely paying your due's ?

NOW !!!!

The other side of the coin.

Until the BWFA TIGHTENS UP THEIR TESTING, it really doesn't hold a lot of validity.
We all have heard of farriers who couldn't pound a nail being certified in the BWFA.
We all have heard that you buy your certification in the BWFA regardless of skills and ability.
We all have heard that it is a dynasty with Ralph Casey running the show uncontested.

DOES THE BWFA DO ANY REAL GOOD ?

I think they do. Just as I believe all the other organizations do good.

They bring awareness, and promote farriers to test and be certified, and they always promote continued education for all farriers.

I think if all the other folks would get off this horse they ride to keep kicking sand in the face of the BWFA, they might have more time to get things done right in their own house.
BUT that is human nature, isn't it. Always needing someone to knock so the folks aren't looking closely at you.

That should get the ball rolling.

When Rick was out for our clinic he explained the specks and requirements of the guild testing.
I found it to be a testing of one's knowledge and farrier skills. Basic requirements exisit, but allowed the farrier to shoe in his manner by giving him the chance to explain and reason why he/she made a choice or chose a course to follow to get the job done.
My personal feelings, when it comes to certification validity, the Guild is on the right track.

"If we could just take the best from all the many organizations we would have an organization that would be in the real interst of the Farrier and the Farrier Trade."

P.S. remember I played "DEVILS ADVOCATE" to help get this post rolling.
So put away the knives and guns.
"you may not like what I say" !
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"you'll never have any doubts where I stand
quote Cindy Matthews 1948-2006


I thought my life had come to a close with Cindy's passing, but there is life after death Thankyou Sharon !

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RE:Testing for other organizations 31 Mar 2007 15:33 #3

  • tbloomer
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vthorseshoe wrote:
"If we could just take the best from all the many organizations we would have an organization that would be in the real interst of the Farrier and the Farrier Trade."
It's been done:

The Guild of Professional Farriers exists to define a valid standard of practical competence for professional farriers, and to effectively represent these farriers and the profession of farriery."- From the Preamble of The Guild Constitution.

We call it a profession and promote it as a profession. A TRADE is usually something practiced by a tradesman. Usually TRADE denotes hand skills. A PROFESSION may involve hand skills, like surgery practiced by medical professionals, but it also implies that there is an intellectual capacity requirement that is even more important.

If farriery is all about shoes and feet, then it is indeed just a trade. However, I like to THINK ABOUT WHY I'm doing what I'm doing to the horse, before I nail a bent piece of metal with nail holes in it on a horse's foot. I may DO physical artistic "carpentry," but I THINK engineering, biology, strategy . . . etc.

From the Guild web site:

. . . professionals are, by definition, more highly valued and compensated than lay workers. But it takes more to be a professional than calling yourself one. Qualifying to practice in a true profession involves years of training and study, as well as meeting a formal standard of competence.

A professional credential system must take into consideration the years it takes to become truly qualified to be a professional farrier, as well as the full range of knowledge and skills needed to provide clients with complete hoof care and shoeing services.

A farrier organization, which issues professional credentials, needs to be made up of qualified professional farriers. This is the only way to be sure that the organization will put the interests of the qualified working farrier first.

The Guild of Professional Farriers is a non-profit organization, which requires all members to meet the Registered Journeyman Farrier™ (RJF™) standard, which is based on the knowledge, experience, and skills needed to practice farriery on a professional level. We issue no credentials lower than RJF, and openly promote this standard to the horse world as a way to identify qualified farriers.
Tom Bloomer
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Here's the deal. I'm trying to keep it simple.
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RE:Testing for other organizations 31 Mar 2007 19:46 #4

  • George Geist
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Bruce,
Well.....actually all I wanted to know was about their testing. I am aware of the good that BWFA has done and continues to do in this industry. It is not my intention to bad mouth them. Matter of fact I even like Ralph Casey. You may not believe it by some of the things I said on the other website but I believe he is a good man.

We hear about AFA testing on these boards on and on ad nauseum. I thought it would be refreshing to hear of some others. From what I understand, BWFA testing used to be pretty much same as AFA but the tester was required to take the test also. Anything he messed up you didn't have to get right either. Since you took it is this in fact the case?

Never having witnessed it but seeing it on paper I see nothing wrong with the Guilds tests. They appear to work as their supposed to.

Yes the Union has testing as they always have. It is in my opinion the best testing but I'm sure you knew that. Other internal matters of theirs the best description I can offer you is this, Ask all the former Marines on this site if in their years of service they ever once felt like part of the Navy. From ones I've known I really dont think so. Is that way with us. We're the horseshoers and always will be. Whoever we affiliate with or do business with will never change that.

I find it difficult to take seriously any organization which does not require testing for membership. But there are those that do and those that don't. To each his own.

I'll say only one more thing about the BWFA that you should think about as well being a life member. As I understand it Ralph is now in his '60s. When an organization is all wrapped around 1 man like that one must ask themselves what will happen to the group upon his retirement, incapacitation or whatever. Is anyone being groomed as a successor?
George
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RE:Testing for other organizations 31 Mar 2007 22:09 #5

  • vthorseshoe
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Geez !! George. If you had said that in the first place I could have saved a whole lot of typng.


I also liked Ralph. I found him knowledgable and easy to talk with.
To answer your question, No it didn't happen to me. Actually and honestly I never saw my test after taking it. I have no idea what I got correct or didn't get correct.
I actually think Ralph made his judgement call on watching someone work.

I am not sure what will happen when and if Ralph becomes incapacitated or deceased, but his son could step into his position or their vice president could be next in line.
I truly wish they would make their testing proceedures more strictly followed so they wouldn't keep coming under the gun. I think the BWFA has a lot going for itself and to have the reputation they have is just a shame.
Ralph has dedicated his life to bring farriers together.

Tom; Although I agree you folks are doing things pretty right, I just question what farriers who aren't guild member qualified would be called ? Apprentices or below grade farriers ?

The Guild of Professional Farriers is a non-profit organization, which requires all members to meet the Registered Journeyman Farrier™ (RJF™) standard, which is based on the knowledge, experience, and skills needed to practice farriery on a professional level.

"We issue no credentials lower than RJF, and openly promote this standard to the horse world as a way to identify qualified farriers."


I will be off line for the next 2 days. My mother-in-law has been so devistated by the loss of her daughter, my wife, her health has been in a constant decline and she passed away last Thursday. I will be attending services.
So I will be back looking at this thread on Tuesday.

Take care
"you may not like what I say" !
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"you'll never have any doubts where I stand
quote Cindy Matthews 1948-2006


I thought my life had come to a close with Cindy's passing, but there is life after death Thankyou Sharon !

Bruce Matthews
Southeast...
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RE:Testing for other organizations 01 Apr 2007 11:28 #6

  • tbloomer
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vthorseshoe wrote:
Tom; Although I agree you folks are doing things pretty right, I just question what farriers who aren't guild member qualified would be called ? Apprentices or below grade farriers ?
What do you call someone who buys some tools at Tractor Supply and starts shoeing horses for pay without any education?

What do you call someone who attends a two-week horseshoeing course and starts shoeing horses for pay?

What do you call someone who attends a 16-week horseshoeing course and and starts shoeing horses for pay?

If you attend Kentucky Horseshoeing School's 22-week program:

http://www.kyhorseshoeing.com/cotwentytwo.shtml

KHS considers graduates of this program qualified for their Intership Program.

So if you take the longest formal course of study available in a private trade school they call you an INTERN. I could make an argument that most of the graduates of this program are better educated and more competant than the vast majority of tenured career farriers in the US. BUT, they still don't have any field experience.

Why does the Guild consider four years to be the "bare minimum for accomplishing competence as a farrier"?


Four years is the traditional minimum experience for being recognized as a qualified farrier. More than that, four years is the logical minimum, since it takes that long to see the effects of corrective work on a colt when he grows into a working horse. It takes a year (four seasons) to really know a given horse's feet, another year to get him through a founder, a third year for him to grow new hooves, and a fourth year to learn the new "normals" for his hooves and compare them to what they were before the founder. Four years gives the farrier a chance to follow horses as they go from middle-aged to geriatric. It gives the farrier the experience of helping to keep geriatric horses comfortable in the last phase of life.



No matter how smart or hard-working a new horseshoer is, the nature of horses and hooves makes it impossible to achieve competence in less than four years. This is why it takes at least four years experience to apply to test for the Registered Journeyman Farrier (RJF) credential and join the Guild.
Bruce,




The bottom line here is that you can call "them" anything you want EXCEPT Registered Journeyman Farrier. The RJF is the entry level for fully qualified Guild professional farriers. The rest is up to the rest of the world to decide. We don't want to keep it all to ourselves. :)

Tom Bloomer
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302-222-6404


Here's the deal. I'm trying to keep it simple.
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RE:Testing for other organizations 01 Apr 2007 14:13 #7

  • vthorseshoe
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Well said, Tom.

I wasn't debating just baiting you, hoping you would make a well explained answer.
You are very articulate and I figured you would be able to do it in a manner new farriers could understand.

It takes time and experience to be considered a professional and in you statement , be considered qualified to take the Guild Exams.

Too many folks start working today in a multitude of professions wanting to start at the top. They overlook the fact that it is all the experience that comes from learning ALL the facetts of a job before you gain the respect of your peers and are considered a profesional.

They don't understand why they aren't paid as apprentices or can't start out right at the top.
The only road I know to the top is called "HARD WORK".

And for others who have been in the profession a long time, we all know presenting yourself for testing is strictly voluntary (at this time) .
A title in front of your name doesn't nor should it imply a less than qualified farrier. Reputation of one's work will soon clarify that.

thanks Tom
"you may not like what I say" !
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"you'll never have any doubts where I stand
quote Cindy Matthews 1948-2006


I thought my life had come to a close with Cindy's passing, but there is life after death Thankyou Sharon !

Bruce Matthews
Southeast...
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RE:Testing for other organizations 01 Apr 2007 14:54 #8

  • Mike Ferrara
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vthorseshoe wrote:
They don't understand why they aren't paid as apprentices or can't start out right at the top.
The only road I know to the top is called "HARD WORK".

And for others who have been in the profession a long time, we all know presenting yourself for testing is strictly voluntary (at this time) .
A title in front of your name doesn't nor should it imply a less than qualified farrier. Reputation of one's work will soon clarify that.

thanks Tom

Unfortunately, the way things work in real life is different. Even degreed professionals, leave school for the work place and then switch jobs every couple of years. They never gain the cradle to grave experience that professionals used to get when they stayed in the same job. They get through their entire career riding on what they did in school and never actually do anything else that achieves anything measureable.

I think we all know what a journeyman is supposed to be but in days gone by one got there through an apprenticeship. If nothing else, the apprentice got his room and board while working and learning under a master. They weren't working for free. Now we say...show up and take a test and you're a journeyman? Compare that to directly observing the day to day work of an apprentice over a period of years before signing off on their journeymans papers? Even todays electrician education and rating system is pretty close to a real trade "system" then this nonsense. They get a sponsor, spend part of the time in school and part on the job WHERE THEY GET PAID. Though the pay scale is lower than a journeyman. This stuff we're talking about here is beyond the pale...a total bastardization of the term journeyman.

As far as I'm concerned if you want to decide who will or won't be called journeyman, you need to apprentice them. Set the specific apprenticeship and experience guidlines (and not just in terms of time!).

The test is the end of the process and probably not even the most important part. It's an exit requirement, not an entry requirement. This buisness of administering a test and making journeyman, while not having done or seen anything else, may be the perfect example of wanting to start at the top. Go earn your "right" to make journeyman.

If we're going to turn this into a trade or profession that requires some sheep skin, hopefully something like a real university will come out with a real degree (maybe they have?) for farriery and we can get a BS, MS or PHD in farriery and get the amateurs out of it.

Sorry, the phrase "beyond the pale" is what keeps coming to mind. I'd rather have government and manditory licensing then this nonsense.
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RE:Testing for other organizations 01 Apr 2007 15:30 #9

  • George Geist
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Mike,
Precisely the way the Union's apprenticeship program works. Is the proper way to do things.
George
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RE:Testing for other organizations 01 Apr 2007 18:31 #10

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There were a group of original founders of the Guild who wanted to start an apprenticeship program. The AFA also tried this. The problems with apprenticeship are as follows:

Not many fully established farriers have a business that can afford to take on an apprentice. An apprentice costs you time and money for at least the first year, possibly two. Just about the time you've got an apprentice to the point they are turning a profit, they jump ship and start their own business. So any farrier taking on an apprentice is taking on a financial risk. If you add customers in order to increase income, then your apprentice leaves, you wind up with a bunch of horses you can't service, and then your customers start to complain.

There is also a risk to the apprentice that they will not be allowed to progress, rather they will be assigned chores and menial tasks without any quality instruction time with the master. 'Nuther words they will be used, abused, and then washed out.

Apprenticeship makes a lot of sense for someone who is young and inexperienced. However, the demographics of the farrier industry do not show many young people choosing to start out their lives with a life-long commitment to being a farrier. Usually they try something else first, because in our current society, young people are bombarded with lot of information and very little direction and leadership. In addition, the short duration of the farrier schools in the U.S. does not provide ANY life skills, business skills, communication skills, or decision making skills. All you're going to learn is how to use the tools. You aren't going to have enough time to develop any serious skill or efficiency. So an apprentice that graduates from a farrier school might be more knowledgeable and provide some usefullness to a master over taking on an apprentice with no education at all, but you still arent going to be taking on another 4 horses a day . . . not without risking your reputation.

Everything is handed to todays young people. They grow up with an attitude of entitlement.
Take away the television, cell phone, and video games and what have you got?

Show me a teenager who is humble and understands the value of hard work and perseverence and I will show a truely rare gem. Show me a teenager who is passionate about what they want to be when they grow up! Show me a youngster with a dream! Yes there are a few. Among those few, how many of them are going to choose farriery as their career of choice? When they see horse owners treating farriers like laborers instead of highly skilled and knowledgeable professionals, what young person would develop a desire to work so hard for so little? When faced with the prospect of 4 years of college or 4 years of apprenticeship there is a huge difference in options for a smart, hard working young person. Four years of college in an engineering or science degree opens many doors for many different jobs. Four years of apprenticeship closes all other doors. For someone fresh out of high school, 4 years represents more than 20% of their lifetime. That is a huge closed ended commitment. College is an open ended commitment.

The majority of new farriers entering into the business are NOT youngsters fresh out of high school. They are mostly adults who are entering into their second, third, or fourth career. Many of them already have figured out that they don't want to endure the daily grind of an ordinary job. They are looking for something to do for a living that will stimulate their minds and bodies. They are looking for freedom from the trappings of the corporate lifestyle and the guilt that fills their souls when they look at their lives and realize that they are nothing more than a statistic. Farriery is a job you can put your heart into and get more back from it than you put into it. Every horse walking off the mats sound is an immediate feel good reward.

The new generation of second career farriers presents a problem for the idea of apprenticeship. The second career farrier has a mortgage and a family to feed. They have to generate a living wage ASAP. So the options are, start out part time riding with an established farrier and build into full time, or start out full time and hope you get some skill before you get a bad reputation.

Todays second career farrier gets their experience and education from networking with other established farriers and attending clinics. The great thing about the farrier industry in the US is that just about every farrier that is worthy of the term "professional" is willing to allow a rookie to ride along with them. I know this for a fact, because everybody I have ever asked has without hesitation or reservation allowed me to ride shotgun. The new apprenticeship is not with one farrier, it is with EVERY farrier who believes in the value of knowledge and skill shareing.

A virtual plethora of farrier education opportunities exist in this country. In addition, the AFA has a testing program what allows aspiring farriers to have their skills and knowledge evaluated against a standard. The cool thing about that is you can decide where you're going to get your education and experience and how you're going to get it. We farriers are rugged individualists.

Guild farriers represent the broadest range of professionals from within the profession. We have race platers like Tom Halpenny, natural barefoot "podiatrists" like KC LaPierre, natural balance (Gene O' himself), long footed specialists, traditionalists, and forging competition champions.

I think that one of the misunderstandings about The Guild is that people think we ought to be laying out a roadmap for aspiring farriers to follow in order to establish themselves as professionals. As an organization of rugged individualists, we have left that up to the individal to figure out for themselves. :)
Tom Bloomer
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RE:Testing for other organizations 01 Apr 2007 21:37 #11

  • Mike Ferrara
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tbloomer wrote:
I think that one of the misunderstandings about The Guild is that people think we ought to be laying out a roadmap for aspiring farriers to follow in order to establish themselves as professionals. As an organization of rugged individualists, we have left that up to the individal to figure out for themselves. :)

So a farrier goes out and learns how and becomes a professional and then comes to the Guild for affirmation? And they/we need the Guild for what?

As a rugged individualist (as you put it), I don't need the guild for anything...especially the nothing that they plan on doing.
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RE:Testing for other organizations 01 Apr 2007 21:49 #12

  • vthorseshoe
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Mike, Tom layed it out in as clear a form as could be said.

Add to this the cost of "workman Comp" or individual insurance for Aprentice's aka employee's and you have busted the bank of most farriers.

None of us disagree with what you feel. It just isn't feezable for many farriers to do and meet their own expenses.

This is the cost of a changing world.
"you may not like what I say" !
-but-
"you'll never have any doubts where I stand
quote Cindy Matthews 1948-2006


I thought my life had come to a close with Cindy's passing, but there is life after death Thankyou Sharon !

Bruce Matthews
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RE:Testing for other organizations 01 Apr 2007 21:59 #13

  • George Geist
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Hey Bruce,
Did you ever look at it this way? Just suppose that something could be done to stop schools from dumping people out every friday. Slow them down just a little bit.

Also let's suppose that people needed to meet a measurable standard of competence before working for the public.

If this were possible it would appear that established horseshoers would then be able to take on more work thereby making apprenticeship and journeyman opportunities.

Can you see such a scenario as being good for the trade?
George
For another fun place to play........
www.horseshoersforum.invisionzone.com
Come over and say hello.
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RE:Testing for other organizations 01 Apr 2007 23:06 #14

  • Gary Hill
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George Geist wrote:
Hey Bruce,
Did you ever look at it this way? Just suppose that something could be done to stop schools from dumping people out every friday. Slow them down just a little bit.

George, I'm with you there!

I just got home from a TPFA Clinic with Chris Geogory as the clinician and man was he impressive! Truely a Blessed young man with alot of positive energy that he shared with everyone there! Of course there was lots of differant discussions going on that you could wander around and listen to and get involved with. One particular thing Chris kept bringing up was the little things that testers will knock you out with. The little things that he was talking about , to me were not that sufficient that someone busting their hineys to test their skills ,and not make it because of one judges opinion? Those little things surely will not hurt the horse and the owners would not know the differance one way or the other? This additude has been around for longer that I have been shoeing I'm sure. The old additudes are changeing slowly but as long as the ones on top have the ability to "nitpick or attack" some people are going to miss interpret and either get their feelings hurt or lose confidence. Sure others will bull up to the challenge to attain excellence . The young farrier I brought with me actually forged his first barshoe today! Stuck his weld on the first try! The talent and gift to share knowledge shouldn't be based on the level someone feels you must attain? Everyone has their own speed and shouldn't be pressured or forced to get to that next level until they feel they are comfortable to do it. Another buddy of mine that was there was recharged to want to do the "get together forgeing nights" we have so long procrasted about. I finally admitted to my self I need to retire my old trusty Valley Hot box. Or at least put it in the shop and get a new forge for my truck. Liner and wind problems hurt me today! I am revived and excited but I do see that division between shoeing for a living and forging for the contest level. I would hope that that division will find some happy medium where young new farriers have the time to develop their skills and the Pros can have their contests, but the horse comes out the biggest winner of it all.
"As I see it, winners get the money - while losers talk of "individual goals" and similar stuff." Tom Stovall
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RE:Testing for other organizations 01 Apr 2007 23:10 #15

  • vthorseshoe
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You know I do. You and I have been down this road before.
Unlike most others I am pro Licensing and that is one of the reasons. It will make the playing field smaller, It will raise the quality of work, It will mean more horses and better money for those who can make the grade.

If you think about it if certification was required to hang out a shingle, that would be in a sense a form of licensing.

In a basic sense it would accomplish what Mike was saying about apprentiship.

I know all the pro's and con's and don't need to hash them over again.

Also George, think about why many schools are opened.
You don't need to be on the road anymore. As an instructor you can bring in a hefty income at today's prices for attending any length of school. Multiply that by 5 to 10 students on a revoving scale and you have a pretty nice paycheck.
GRANTED, there are instructors in many schools who are teaching because it is a way to give back or help improve the young folks starting out, but the bottom line is $. If anyone disagree's, show me a school who takes students for free.
So the bottom line to all the questions and problems is $'s. Either going out or coming in.
"you may not like what I say" !
-but-
"you'll never have any doubts where I stand
quote Cindy Matthews 1948-2006


I thought my life had come to a close with Cindy's passing, but there is life after death Thankyou Sharon !

Bruce Matthews
Southeast...
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