Monthly Archives: February 2011

Is Your Farrier Certified?

What level are they on?

In the United States, today, there are several organizations that offer a farrier certification program.  The American Farrier’s Association or AFA is one of them.  They have the highest testing standards and offer (4) four levels of certification as well as (2) two specialty endorsement levels.

The AFA Certification Program was developed in 1981 and centers around standardized examination processes allowing the proper assessment of trimming and shoeing.  In addition to the “hands on” portion of the examination, students are also required to take comprehensive written tests on anatomy, physiology and biomechanics.

This certification allows farrier’s to be recognized among other farriers and equine owners as having guagable levels of knowledge and expertise in hoof care.

The levels of certification consist of (3) categories, Classification, Certification and Endorsement. 

The AFA Farrier Classification (AFA Farrier) is an entry-level segment focusing on basic concerns relating to safe, sound farrier practices.  Further diminishing the applicant from time limits and higher level forge work affiliated with certification.  Written and practical testing and the creation of brief horseshoe display are required.  This level is not a prerequisite of any other certification levels.

The Certified Farrier (AFA CF) is the first level of AFA certification and is open to farriers having at least one year of horse shoeing experience and have demonstrated knowledge and skill on a professional basis.  The level requires the successful completion of written and practical testing and a clear demonstration and explanation of a horseshoe display.

The Certified Tradesman Farrier (AFA CTF) is a second level certification program and is open to farriers with 2 years of horse shoeing experience and the CF level of training must have been completed. Written and practical testing is required and must be successfully completed, Forging and fitting of a handmade shoe within a prescribed time is also required.

The Certified Journeyman Farrier (AFA CJF) is the highest level of certification that the AFA offers.  This level is open to farriers that have at least two years of horse shoeing experience and have completed the CF level.  Farriers are expected to display in-depth knowledge and highly developed performance skills confirming a level of professional artistry.  Written and practical testing is required and forging of a specific bar shoe within a time limit.  Further, the shoe must fit a pre-determined foot pattern.

The Endorsements level provides the CJF the opportunity of continuing education and further professional development.  Some areas of hoof care require highly specialized knowledge and skill which may involve working with particular breeds, activities, disciplines or working with veterinarians to provide relief to horses that are suffering from possible neglect, inadequate hoof care or which have been affected by disease or trauma.

This Specialty Endorsement at the CJF level is called Therapeutic Endorsement.  A general overview of this program is available and can be obtained through the AFA office.

So, how certified is your farrier?


Tags: , , , , ,

The Cowboy Way

The Cowboy Way

     A GOOD COWBOY will go beyond the call of duty and even put himself in harm’s way to help a suffering beast.  Doug and Patty run a ranch in that big wide country in Eastern New Mexico.  Last spring they’d received several loads of cow-calf pairs.  The weather was against them and the calves went to scourin’.

     The cows were turned out in a big pasture.  Treating the calves wasn’t easy.  The morning of the incident, their neighbor, Caleb, came to help.  He was ridin’ a big mule.  They watched for a minute and confirmed the calf was, in fact, afflicted.  Doug eased up and dropped a lazy loop around his neck.  It is a strange but almost predictable occurence that a calf, who appears to be on the edge of his last breath can suddenly become a dynamo of jack rabbit speed and mad-dog energy when suddenly caught with a rope.

     Doug pulled the horn knot tight on his saddle as the calf slashed back and forth like a 200 pound marlin on the end of his line.  Caleb was haulin’ back on his mule to git outta the way.  Not in time.  The calf went around the outside of the mule and dang near toppled him before they jumped clear.  The mule took off in high gear!  Caleb was mashin’ on the brakes.  You could smell ’em burnin’ as he disappeared over a swell.

     Doug kept his pony facin’ the calf ’til it tangled the rope in some brush.  “Quick, Patty!”, Doug instructed.  “Flank him and give him a Sudafed and some L.A. 200!”

     Patty, who’s a good cowboy herself, dismounted, went down the rope and flanked the calf just as it’s mamma arrived, registering her disapproval.  She was blowin’ snot as Patty maneuvered around tryin’ to keep the calf between herself and mamma.

     Doug saw Caleb out of his peripheral vision, racing back to the scene.  “Great”, he thought.  “Help’s on the way.”

     The mule was still out of control, on auto pilot, so to speak.  He never slowed but instead jumped the stretched rope like a steeple-chaser.  Caleb never shifted his seat and disappeared out the other direction.

     Patty had managed to give the shot and peel off the rope, but the cow gave her a good roll anyway before chasing off after her darlin’ baby.

     I was lookin’ at Patty while Doug was tellin’ me this story.  She nodded with that resigned look I often see in ranch women’s eyes.

     I said, “By gosh, Doug.  Yer’ a heck’uva cowboy!  You did all that and never got off yer’ horse.”

     Doug said, “Yup.  I was trainin’ him.”

 Cowboy Common Sense ~ a reprint from Western Horseman October 2002 Issue

This article and many others by Baxter Black can be found at

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 27, 2011 in Cowboy Gossip


Tags: , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: