The Worshipful Company of Farriers founded its modern examination process in 1890, with the Registered Shoeing Smith examination. It had been hoped that this would lead to compulsory registration. This was not to happen for 95 years! To avoid confusion, once all Farriers were required to register, the name changed to Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (DipWCF). In 1907 the Company realised that there was a need for a higher level examination that promoted a farrier’s ability to use horse shoeing skills in the treatment of conditions of the foot and equine limb. This was called Associate of the Farriers Company of London (AFCL). It changed its title to The Associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (AWCF) at the same time as the DipWCF.
In the mid 1990s the examination board saw that the AWCF examination needed reviewing to encourage more Farriers to take it and to promote the study and use of synthetic methods and materials. A complete overhaul of the syllabus took place. A continual review has now been built into the system so that the examination remains current. Encouragingly in recent exams the number of candidates has begun to rise.
What Are The Examiners Looking For?
They are looking for you to convince them that you have a depth of knowledge of anatomy, conditions and diseases of the foot, and how conformation affects the gait and the foot, and vice versa. You need to show traditional forging skills and be able to apply them to an individual horse. You need to show a range of shoemaking skills in different materials including fabricating. They are assessing your ability to think on your feet when confronted with a task that you might not have experienced. You need to be able to use and have an opinion on the synthetic materials listed. You need to be comfortable looking at x-rays and assessing a horse with a veterinary surgeon.
The above list of skills is quite wide ranging. However, it is only what one would expect a farrier engaged in remedial or consultancy shoeing to possess. The veterinary examiner is looking to see if you could partner him in treating farriery related conditions. The farrier examiners are looking to see whether they could refer a case to you. All parts of the syllabus are to be taken seriously.
If you acquire the knowledge and skills set out in the syllabus, you will become an Associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers.
-Dr Simon Curtis PhD HonAssocRCVS FWCF