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TOPIC: Schools / Training options in midwest US/Canada?

Schools / Training options in midwest US/Canada? 24 Aug 2005 04:44 #1

Following on Karen B's thread, "Schools,Apprenticing,Do's and Dont's":

I am investigating the possibility of leaving my current field of employment and re-training to become a farrier. I've enjoyed working with horses all my life, but have no particular interest in becoming a trainer, breeder, or barn owner. I've been interested in horseshoeing since my teens, but for a variety of reasons it did not seem like an option at that time. I am now at a point where I can leave the field in which I've been working and take up something I would actually enjoy doing.

Several things, I hope, are in my favor: I like horses and enjoy handling them on the ground. I'm good with my hands and I enjoy working out puzzles and problems. People tell me I learn quickly, can be a perfectionist, and have a decent work ethic. I am happy to work hard, get dirty/hot/cold/hurt, and be sore at the end of the day as long as I'm not bored doing it. I am fortunate enough to have the financial resources to get the training and tools that I'd need and supplement the income I won't have for a while. My family is incredibly supportive, and we can relocate. I'd like to run my own business rather than relying on a single employer.

I've been reading Butler's The Principles of Horseshoeing II. So far what I've read is interesting, makes sense and seems like something I can wrap my brain around.

I wonder, then, where do I go from here? I can read books and hang over my farrier's shoulder while he works, but I won't know if this is what I want to do if I don't get some kind of hands-on experience. The consensus seems to be that school is a good start but by no means a complete education. I'd like to look into schools and hands-on training in the United States or Canada. Karen's thread mentions several schools, but I'm wondering if anyone could/would recommend an institution or program in Wisconsin, Illinois, or Minnesota (all places where I have family)? Canada (anywhere in Canada) is also an option.

Many thanks for any advice, opinions, baseless assertions, etc. No doubt I've left out a good bit of information that would help answer my question. If there's something I should have put in here, please tell me and I'll add it.
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RE:Schools / Training options in midwest US/Canada? 24 Aug 2005 15:24 #2

There is basically always the same answers to these questions.

1) Find a school to go to. Although some schools are better then others versus different ppl's opinions. (IMO if I had to go thru w/ it again I would go to Chris Gregorys school.
2) After school find a farrier to work for or apprentice with.
3) Remember that there is no one perfect way to shoe a horse correctly.
4) Read as many books, articles that you can and have an open mind to try things.
5) Riding w/ different farriers will help tremendously.
6) Most farriers aren't going to start letting you work on there customers horses right away at all because their customers are their lively hood and they can't take any chances.
7) Although you are very good at problem solving and working w/ your hands don't take that for granted. (I did that myself.) I had done lots of metal work in the shop at home before going to school. I made furniture and crafts. I used to do alot of scroll work so I figured that turning a horseshoe was a piece of cake. WRONG!!! :confused: I've gotten much better at it all now w/ much, much practice but still have trouble w/ pulling clips. (I think we need Roy to post a demo on this subject...... :D

There is a tremendous amount to learn and I don't think one will ever quit learning but just always remember this: There is no one way to shoe a horse right or wrong.

Good Luck
Chris Clark

"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle."
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RE:Schools / Training options in midwest US/Canada? 25 Aug 2005 16:40 #3

Thanks, Double C Forge. I'll look at Chris Gregory's school. I also understand about proficiencies not necessarily translating from one skill set to another.

Which leads to my next question: How does one evaluate a school? What should I look for, what should I run from? I'm not necessarily looking for names, but more for attitudes and approaches to training, students, and the profession. I know what I looked at when I was looking at colleges right out of high school. I had a long list of criteria, but I ended up going where I did because it felt "right" when I visited and because my teacher in my major subject had gone there.

The farrier who shoes my horse does a great job, so I will ask if he might let me ride with him as long as I keep my hands in my pockets and my mouth shut.

Again, many thanks.
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RE:Schools / Training options in midwest US/Canada? 25 Aug 2005 16:54 #4

Yea maybe you should ride w/ him first and check it out for a month or more before you decide. He should get you banging on steel pretty soon and have you learning your way around the truck and how to set it up properly... :D
Probaly would be starting you on some clean up and maybe some dressing and clinching before too long. Just talk to him and see.

A couple of the main things is to stay away from the diploma factories. Ones that say you can be a journeyman farrier in only 12 weeks. Yea Right! You may actually be one in 5 Pretty much whichever school you go to will give you all the basics. The rest you will learn from riding w/ a good farrier after school, experience and much much practice. Alot of the schools are affiliated w/ the BWFA (Brotherhood of Working Farriers), in a nutshell its a quick way to call yourself a journeyman or certified in general. The AFA certification is where it is at. A much more professional run association and one that has much higher standards. You could never become an AFA certified farrier in 12 weeks!

Chris Gregory (in case you don't know) is a journeyman farrier and is also certified in Great Britian but I forget the name of it, but its much tougher there then here to be certified. People say he is a good teacher himself and has full time instructors to help. You don't want to go to a school where you are dealing w/ student instructors that have just graduated weeks to 6 months before you. They picked up on usually quicker then most but still don't have the experience that you need. Chris also works w/ coal forges and gas so you get to learn the old way and he is serious when it comes to the forge work. Well good luck and enjoy it, don't get in a will come.
Chris Clark

"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle."
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RE:Schools / Training options in midwest US/Canada? 02 Oct 2005 22:31 #5

Again, thanks, Double C Forge.

I am looking into schools. I spent some time talking to one farrier who highly praised the Midwest Horseshoeing School in Macomb, Illinois. The location would make it a good option if I decide to go this route. I would be grateful to anyone who can tell me about their experience with this school.

Still working on riding with my farrier. I dropped him a note asking about this, but haven't heard back. I don't want to bug him about it and make a nuisance of myself, since I do want him to keep working on my horse!

Any advice on convincing another farrier to let me observe his/her work? My ability to offer cash bribes or arrange political favors is limited, so I'm hoping to rely on persuasion and argument. I'm willing to be useful (to the extent that I can be useful) or to keep quiet and stay out of the way, as desired.

Many thanks to anyone who can offer advice.
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RE:Schools / Training options in midwest US/Canada? 02 Oct 2005 23:29 #6

CW3- You're far better off riding with someone before going to school. If your farrier isn't interested you might want to check the calander over at the AFA website, find an event, drop in and see if someone ther will let you ride along. That would probably be the best way to make sure you're riding with the right kind of person anyhow.

CC- come on out to NCHA, compete on friday, get some input from Austin and "The Phantom". Them come to the clinic on Sat. and get some more.
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