I’m sorry you want me to learn to do WHAT online?!

I freely admit the following is a bit of a rant.

I also freely admit that it may be that I am being closed minded on the subject but goddammit learning a trade CANNOT BE DONE ONLINE!

I am a huge supporter of online and distance learning.  I’ve taken many a marketing, accounting and business course through properly accredited universities online learning options.  Some were better than others, and yes, I did cheat on every single exam.  I’m not proud of it, but when you’re trying to get yourself a post secondary education and only have 2-3 hours per week to study… well you do the math.  But my unscrupulous exam-taking practices are not the subject here!

How in the frakking hell can you teach someone to be a farrier, even a barefoot one that isn’t nailing steel onto a horse’s hoof, through online video and reading!  Here’s where my closed mindedness may come in to play: I firmly believe that stuff like that needs to be learned hands on and under professional supervision.  The way you trim a horse’s hoof directly affects the way it moves – regardless of barefoot vs. shod.  Sure there may be less opportunity to hurt the horse through barefoot trimming (no hammers or nails are involved) but that doesn’t mean a bad trim can’t detrimentally affect a horse.

Wondering where this is coming from? I was looking at the links that were provided in the comments of Barefoot trimming and the evil shoe conspiracy (part 1) and found that Equine Soundness Inc. will generously train you to be a barefoot trimmer, online and at your leisure, for the bargain price of $4500.  WOW!  What a steal.  For that price you will spend only (ONLY!) 10 months learning how to trim and then will be awarded a certificate.  I honestly don’t know why more schmucks people aren’t doing this.

This next website was recommended for the value of its articles.  I’m sure they’re interesting and informative but I can’t get to them.  Hoof Help Online, the home of James and Yvonne Welz, requires that you pay $20/month to be able to access their information.  You can’t even go on to their forums and converse with people without paying the monthly fee.  Apparently they didn’t take the same business classes (online) that I did because I was taught to provide some value up front.  It establishes trust and starts to build a relationship with potential clients, encouraging them to buy from you.  Without that value up front though, this potential client is taking her $20/month elsewhere!

Anyone else get the impression online farrier courses are created by people in the field who aren’t making enough money and decided to add teaching to their repertoire?  But because they couldn’t make enough money just from teaching either, they still had to see clients and thus their aaaamazing online courses were born!

I would love to know what is going through people’s minds when sign up for these things.  First of all – giving $4500 to people over the internet?! It’s like standing in a dark alley in New York (I just watched a bunch of episodes of Castle which told me that there are a lotta dead people in NY and if it’s on TV it’s true, right?) with a wallet full of crisp 100 dollar bills on a Friday night with bright, pulsating neon arrows pointing at you.  Second of all – how much, and how well, do you really think these people will be able to teach you OVER THE INTERNET?!

That being said, if you’re ok with a person who “learned” to trim via teh interwebz (which basically means they read some stuff and then dove in with an “instructor” occasionally critiquing photos and/or videos of their “work”) working on your horse’s tender tootsies then by all means, use your internet accredited “farrier”.  I, for one, will be sticking to my in-person, hands-on trained and then apprenticed, farrier.

Peace out.


About snarkyrider

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Posted on November 21, 2011, in Conformation and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Hi,

    I first want to say im fairly new to reading your blog, i found it while looking after the fuglyblog was sold and i fiqured out that there was not many new posts recently. I enjoy yours beacuse it seems like there is new posts daily! I love your blog!

    Secondly, i agree that farrier training can not be given online. I to am a currently online student with Upper Iowa University hoping to achieve a bachelors in Psychology. I have taken campus courses at a local community college, and although i prefer to take online classes i do realize that certain subjects are best taught in person. I personally feel anything equine related needs to be done off line, even the new found fad of Equine Studies Degrees should be done in person. How the hell do you take a horse training class online? I agree i would never let a online certified farrier touch my horse and i suggest online studies to anyone thinking about going to college!

    Just my two Sense anyway!

  2. Ugh *headwall*

    I can certainly see online training being a starting point – for any trade or hands-on type of job. Anatomy, the basics of different techniques, and various other “theory” aspects are not things that need to be taught in-person while staring at a horse – and so could save a lot of time in the long-run. It would also be a great way to learn about many different “abnormal” cases that you might not see otherwise by apprenticing with a farrier. BUT taking an online course with no in-the-field training whatsoever should NEVER qualify you for certification. I might know how to trim a horse’s hooves, but that doesn’t mean I’m physically capable of doing it properly. Sure, I could understand the required apprenticeship time being reduced (if there is a required amount of time?) if you’ve taken an online course, because you wouldn’t need to spend as much time learning the basics, but definitely not certification without having spent some time with an established farrier there to critique you as you’re doing it and teach those things that cannot be learned through reading or watching videos.

  3. DUDE! Seriously?! I’m too stupidified to even make any snarcasm… *headdesk*

  4. I was just reading something on facebook from Association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices at that had photos of natural hoof trims, some done via online consultations. Hideous!

    I keep my horse barefoot, she does not compete and she had good hooves, so she does not need shoes. But for a farrier to be “trained” online is ridiculous!

  5. There are just some things that cannot be taught without hands on experience. I am a dog groomer, and this is one of those things that has to be hands on. I would not let anyone that took a course online, trim my horses. I also let the girls go barefoot, but that is because we don’t do a whole lot of riding. If they needed to be shod, I would not have a problem with it. I have had horses in the past that required shoes. I’m glad that the girls don’t need them, because it is expensive enough just getting them trimmed:)

  6. That certificate doesn’t actually make them a qualified farrier right, it’s just wrong, there are limits and it is so important that the hooves are done right. I’m hoping this is a ‘to pass the time’ sort of thing and no one who’s actually going to mess with hooves will take this seriously…doubt it though. Someone is going to think this is a GREAT idea.

  7. I have to be devil’s advocate here a little bit Snarky. Where I live I have not found a single qualified farrier who I would trust to do my horses’ feet. So I have had to learn barefoot hoof care out of necessity. I should qualify this with the fact that I apprenticed under a farrier for about 8 months (learned enough to reset shoes while managing an herd of 150) I’ve spent a lot of time around feet. I understand what a healthy hoof looks like.

    I learned all my barefoot trimming online, There is a lot of GREAT information out there, and if you are dedicated and good at reading directions you CAN learn (does this qualify you to go off and start trimming other people’s horses? NO) but you CAN learn and you CAN learn to do a GOOD job with your own horses’ feet.

    The scary thing to me is how many horse owners are uneducated about what a good shoeing job should look like, or what a good trim job should look like. They trust their farrier to know what’s best and unfortunately there are a HUGE number of farriers out there that don’t know the head of a nail from the spike. I’ve seen shoes put on upside down. I’ve seen horses in shoes a size and even 2 sizes too small. I’ve watched a farrier hot nail a horse and then because he couldn’t get it out he left her to get an infection. I’ve seen horses standing on stilts (not TWH) I’ve seen horses with shoe sticking out on all sides of the hoof, I’ve seen nails put in backwards (as in tapered end facing the wrong way.)

    Regardless of whether you choose to start trimming your own horses feet or not, there is no excuse for not being educated about them. It’s scary to me that most vets and farriers think of the hoof as a block of wood with no internal structure, I was recently watching a vet who is considered the BEST lameness expert in the northwest, work on a very expensive hunter mare. This mare was getting a shot in every joint below her elbows because she had suspensory issues. I was floored that the vet chose to ignore the condition of this mare’s feet. She was literally standing on stilts, her hoof capsule (distance from cornet band to bottom of hoof) was about 5.5 inches tall and went straight down on the sides and almost straight down at the front. This mare looked like she wore a size 00 shoe, when she should have been wearing a 2, had her feet been healthy. I don’t know about you but I know I’d be having suspensory issues if I were standing in stiletto heels 24/7.

    No hoof no horse. truer words were never spoken. I’ve successfully rehabbed many horses who’s hooves have all but been destroyed by farriers.

    A mare who had at least 6 cracks going from grass to coronet band on each hoof, farrier said they would never grow out, she had too much damage to her coronet band (funny when I looked at the hooves I never saw any damage to the coronet band.) It took about a year but she has no more cracks and finally walks comfortably, and will happily pick up the trot and canter which she wouldn’t do before. The farrier had the owner convinced that this horse had to have shoes or her feet would just fall apart!

    A “navicular” horse who had been shod in eggbar shoes and, because it relieved the symptoms, continued that way for a few years until it got worse and worse and he abscessed constantly and was always in pain. They wanted to put him down. This horse had contracted heels and no circulation in his hooves any more, he almost had no frog left at all. Several trims in as his angles started to normalize and his heels spread out a little more to absorb the impact from his steps as his cartilage in the back half of his hoof grew healthier he became more and more sound, He’s now healthy and showing and winning.

    Just a couple of rehabs for example. And despite the fact that I learned my methods ONLINE, I have never lamed a horse.

    I won’t say that a barefoot trim is a miracle cure for every ailment. But a properly shod or trimmed foot will keep your horse happy and healthy for many many years. An improperly shod or trimmed horse obviously won’t be.

    How can you save your horse from going lame? LEARN all you can. That means scouring the internet or the bookstore or the library for information about the healthy hoof. How can you know your farrier is doing right by you and your horse if you don’t know what your looking at? There is PLENTY of FREE information about what a healthy shod and unshod hoof looks like, don’t get sucked into the sites that make you pay. This site is a great start

    • I don’t think SR’s intention was to bash all online information as a source of knowledge, but they it should never be the only source of knowledge for a farrier. That’s like saying you can make online courses for surgeons!

      However, using online information as a reference source may be good for both farriers and owners. It’s kinda ridiculous when the owner knows how to do the job better than the farrier but, much like entrusting your horse to a trainer, the owners should never trust a professional blindly, and make sure to always be involved in the process.

  8. For some horses with navicular, a special barefoot trim does seem to work. Others are better off with the bar shoes. The barn I ride at has an example of each. Interestingly, the one who has the special trim is the one with, by far, the worst pathology. I’m not sure whether the bar shoes made him worse or just didn’t help at all, but I know they switched him from them to the trim and he did get sounder. Not that he’s very sound, but he’s better than he was…he has good days and bad days.

    I’m a firm believer in ‘barefoot if possible, shod if necessary’.

  9. I’m glad Teresa put it so succintly.
    And I agree with her.

    Also, before jumping you may want to answer that question about who would take this course – trimmers who want to know more anatomy and a better understanding of pathologies, different trim techniques etc.
    As for practice, we have cadaver hooves and other knowledgable trimmers/farriers to teach us. No one worth their salt will do this without a good education.

    And despite my desire to get a nerf bat and hit you with it, I still like your blog. 😀

    oooh, google Rick Mercer – he’s a crazy canuck who knows how to do smash up rants.

  10. I have said it many times: Thinking you can trim your own horse is like thinking you can do your own surgery.

    It is SO DAMN EASY to eff up your horse’s legs by getting the angles wrong. Potentially PERMANENTLY. Why would you risk that? Leave the stuff that requires an expert TO an expert, someone who has gone to school and apprenticed under an excellent farrier to learn how to do it. Save money on something else that won’t PERMANENTLY RUIN YOUR HORSE if you do it wrong.

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