Worshipful Company of Farriers
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The Worshipful Company of Farriers
Promoting the welfare of the horse since 1356

Frequently Asked Questions

Section one: the horse owner


Section two: career opportunities/apprentices


Section three: the farrier


Section four: general


Section one: the horse owner


How do I find a farrier?

Use the 'Find a Farrier' section on the Farriers Registration Council website at www.farrier-reg.gov.uk where you can search by postcode. The results show what qualifications the farrier holds, and his contact details. There are shortages of farriers in certain parts of the country. The FRC regularly update a 'Report on the Number of Farriers in Relation to the Horse population'. Clearly neither the WCF nor the FRC can force farriers to live and work where the opportunities are, but the report is available to farriers who may make a commercial assessment of where they are most needed. Top of page


What do the qualifications shown in the register of farriers mean?

A knowledge and understanding of farriery qualifications is of considerable importance to horse owners, veterinary surgeons, and, it should be added, farriers. Of equal importance is an understanding of the fact that many conditions causing lameness can be successfully treated, or be more efficiently treated by a partnership of a veterinary surgeon and a farrier. After a four year apprenticeship, a farrier takes the Diploma examination run by the Worshipful Company of Farriers. Having passed this a farrier is registered with the Farrier Registration Council and is allowed to work on his own behalf. The Diploma examination syllabus requires a candidate for the examination to make a limited selection of shoes and to fit them to a horse. It also requires him or her to have a sound knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the legs of a horse and of the commoner conditions causing lameness. Having passed the Diploma a farrier can then study for the Associate (AWCF) examination of the Company. For this the candidate is expected to have a more detailed knowledge of the structure and function of the legs and the causes of lameness. He or she is expected to be able to make a wide range of special shoes and have a full knowledge of materials such as plastics in the treatment of hoof conditions. Finally there is the highest qualification, the Fellowship examination of the Company (FWCF). For this, as well as having knowledge of farriery to the highest level, a candidate must be able to present his knowledge to an audience in a lecture or paper form. It is reasonable to suggest that farriers with the AWCF or FWCF qualifications should treat lameness conditions. It may be possible for those without the qualifications to be successful but higher qualifications indicate a greater level of knowledge and skill and those who have achieved these have demonstrated their commitment to acquiring them. Top of page


Are farriers from other countries allowed to practise in the UK?

In November 2008, the European Federation of Farrier Associations (EFFA) announced the launch of the Europe-wide qualification Certified Euro-Farrier.  Working farriers who have completed a course of formal training and have achieved those national qualifications which are recognised as meeting EFFA’s Basic Standards of Competence will be entitled to put CE-F after their names, will be awarded a Certificate, and from 1 January 2009 will receive an annual vehicle window sticker.

EFFA’s standards were developed by the member nations with assistance from the European Commission’s Leonardo da Vinci project. Countries currently registered as being eligible are Switzerland, Holland, Austria, Great Britain, Denmark and Finland. Other countries will be accredited as they reach the necessary standard. The farrier associations in each country will be responsible for submitting the names of those eligible and for keeping the record up to date with additions and removals. Names and contact details of CE-Fs will be published on EFFA’s website – www.eurofarrier.org.

The aims of the Certified Euro-Farrier scheme are to:

• Provide recognition for those who have achieved the necessary standards of competence
• Provide a means of identifying competent farriers from other countries. This is particularly important for horse owners in view of EU legislation allowing farriers to practise in other countries purely on the basis of experience 
• Encourage countries without qualifications or with lower level qualifications to raise standards of farriery to meet the EFFA standard

Membership of EFFA is open to all farriery associations in all European nations, whether they are members of the EU or not.  Current member nations are: Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain, Ireland, Holland, Spain, Iceland and the Czech Republic.

Requests for further details or clarification should be sent to Miles Williamson-Noble, Certified Euro-Farrier Registrar at eurofarrier@btinternet.com Top of page


I am thinking of using my horse unshod. What should I consider?

Firstly it is completely natural for a horse to be without shoes, for they function very well on the whole unshod. However, it is not natural to ride, drive, and stable horses and also on some working surfaces you can have problems with grip, excessive wear and damage to the hoof capsule. Some of the points to consider are firstly our British Maritime Climate producing a lot of rainfall, thus making the feet softer than they would normally be in their natural environment, so they may wear a lot quicker than the hoof wall growth can replace itself, thus making potentially sore feet with lack of performance. Also with some hoof conformation, without correct heel support from shoes, heels can collapse causing potential long term lameness issues. Without shoes the white line is exposed which makes it prone to collect gravel, general debris etc. which in turn can cause seedy toe and lameness. Breed and type of horse are also major factors when considering horses unshod. Another thing to consider if the horse requires remedial help with poor hoof pastern axis a correctly fitting shoe and regular shoeing periods will prolong the longevity of your horses' soundness. One of the most important skills in farriery is trimming and balancing the hoof with the limb, the correctly fitted shoe applied after this process protects the trim and keeps the horse in balance a lot longer than if it was unshod. Good foot balance is the key to help promote healthy function and blood supply, good straight movement and soundness. However in some cases a compromise can be to have just front shoes, as two thirds of the horse’s weight are over the front limbs and three fifths when ridden. This can work very well with the hind feet being regularly checked when the front feet are attended to. First and foremost before making a decision, always consult your farrier for advice for he knows your horses' feet and the work that will be expected from your horse better than anyone. Top of page


Can I trim and shoe my own horse?

Under the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975, as amended, only: Registered Farriers, Approved Farriery Apprentices, Veterinary Surgeons or Practitioners, trainee vets working under supervision or persons giving first aid in case of an emergency to a horse, may practise farriery. You may only practise farriery on your own horses if you fall into one of these categories. For others to do so is a criminal offence which can result in a fine of up to £1000, plus legal costs and a criminal record. Farriery is defined within the Act as "any work in connection with the preparation or treatment of the foot of a horse for the immediate reception of a shoe thereon, the fitting by nailing or otherwise of a shoe to the foot or the finishing off of such work to the foot". This means in practice that trimming which is not going to result in the application of a shoe to the foot of an equine is not covered by the Farriers (Registration) Act and is therefore not regulated. However, horse owners should be aware that although, simple trimming and rasping of horses’ feet is allowed by lay persons under the Act to permit maintenance of foals’ and other unshod horses’ feet, it should not be attempted by anyone who is not qualified. Where more radical trimming and reshaping of horses’ feet is contemplated there is the potential for creating severe lameness. Experience has indicated this is particularly so where such 'therapy' is not undertaken by qualified farriers or veterinary surgeons. It is recommended that owners should only carry out minor work on feet of a cosmetic or emergency nature and that any significant trimming should be carried out by a Registered Farrier or a veterinary surgeon who will have been properly trained and strictly regulated by a code of conduct. Top of page


What is a Master Farrier?

The WCF has now registered the Mark 'Master Farrier' and that title may therefore only be used by qualified persons as detailed in the regulations for that Registered Mark.  These regulations are summarised in the section on Master Farrier on this website. 

Master Farriers must hold either the Associateship (including the AFCL) or Fellowship.  Honorary Fellows may not apply, unless holding an AWCF or FWCF by examination.Top of page


I often enter my horse in competitions, but I have just won a 'WCF Best Shod Horse' award, and was not aware that I had been entered. Can you explain how this works?

Under Consideration Top of page


How can I help improve the condition of my pony's feet?

The biggest problem for ponies and horses feet is the environment they are kept in. The northern hemisphere naturally has many changes in weather along with the seasons. Pony and horse owners will notice in times of extended periods of dryness or drought the feet become much harder and less prone to cracking and breaking up. Therefore, some ideas can be drawn from this. Feet should be kept as dry as possible, when we have very wet weather, or the environment is wet i.e. washing the pony frequently or dirty wet bedding, which causes the feet to up take excessive moisture the feet expand just like a piece of wood. Then the pony is put back into a dry environment i.e. a stable with wood shavings or dry dusty paddock the feet rapidly dry out and shrink. This sudden change between wet and dry is very detrimental to the pony's feet causing a break down in the hoof structure, the interlocking horn, the glue that holds the horn tubules together breaks down and the foot will begin to split and crack. When this happens a hoof hardener needs to be used every day for six weeks. Then waterproof the feet with an appropriate hoof gel, which puts a protective coating over the feet which has microscopic holes allowing the feet to breathe and maintain normal moisture levels and protect feet from environmental moisture, urine, fungus, and bacteria. Do not use products that contain petroleum oils or lanolin. Top of page


My horse has poor feet and has just been shod, but appears to be more lame now than before shoeing. What should I do?

This question indicates that the regular farrier has been trying to correct an existing lameness problem. That the lameness has worsened after shoeing would require the farrier at least to offer advice, but most probably for him to return as soon as he is able to check the shoeing. If the cause is poor condition of the hoof wall, then this must be addressed by the farrier who may consult your veterinary surgeon with a view to improving this factor which may be causing the lameness. Should this not be the case, and as may be implied here, the horse has a persistent lameness, is it sure that the cause is "poor feet"? A proper and confirmed diagnosis should be made. Attempts to correct poor foot conformation such as shallow heels, flat feet, poor balance and alignment that the horse has adjusted to since its early days often do shift the stress points in the foot and associated structures, so a new area of pain arises. Feet with naturally poor conformation are best left not greatly disturbed, with veterinary diagnosis for any persistent lameness. Harsh though it may sound such horses are best not purchased in the first place. The best procedure here is to have had a veterinary surgeon perform a five stage Pre Purchase Examination (P.P.E.) so that the prospective purchaser can make an informed decision as to whether to buy the horse or not. That a horse has poor feet should be written down on the P.P.E. form and properly discussed. Ultimately the answer to the question here is to obtain a full veterinary examination and diagnosis. Top of page


I am informed that my horse needs remedial shoeing. Can my current farrier do this, and what training do farriers have in remedial shoeing?

There are three levels of qualification for farriers. The initial qualification, which is required to become a Registered Farrier, is the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. This is the technical examination for completion of the Advanced Apprenticeship, and also the Recognised Examination required for registration with the Farriers Registration Council under the Farriers Registration Act. Farriers so qualified, and registered with the WCF, may use the letters DipWCF after their name. The Diploma supersedes the qualification Registered Shoeing Smith (RSS). Having held the Diploma qualification for at least two years, the farrier may then sit the examination for the Associateship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. This is an intensive practical and theory examination covering more advanced aspects of farriery, including remedial shoeing, which is not covered at the Diploma level. The candidate has to demonstrate a much deeper and broader understanding of the art and science of farriery. Success in this examination allows the farrier to use the letters AWCF after his name. The AWCF supersedes the AFCL qualification. There are about 150 AWCF/AFCL registered. Fellowship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers is the highest qualification in farriery and demonstrates that the farrier has attained an extremely high level of competence. An Associate may attempt the FWCF Examination once he has been an AWCF for at least two years and his Diploma for at least five years. A Fellow of the Company may use the letters FWCF after his name. There are only some 25 Fellows on the Register, and they are the Master Farriers. The client should first ask their farrier about his competence to achieve the required result, including his qualifications and specialist CPD undertaken. See: www.farrier-reg.gov.uk Top of page


How is farriery organised in the UK - who is responsible for what?

The Worshipful Company of Farriers is a City Livery Company that has its origins in 1356, when it was established as a Fellowship to oversee farriery within the cities of London and Westminster. Six hundred and fifty years later the Company still has the responsibility for securing adequate standards of competence and conduct among persons engaged in the shoeing of horses. The Company also actively promotes and encourages the art, science, training, and education of farriery. The governing body of the Company is the Court, comprising some 25 senior members appointed to meet the Company's responsibilities.

The Company promoted The Farriers (Registration) Act of 1975, which was further amended in 1977 and in 2002. The Act was introduced to prevent and avoid suffering by and cruelty to horses arising from the shoeing of horses (and other equines) by unskilled persons. It also prohibits the shoeing of horses by unqualified persons. Farriery is defined by the 1975 Act as "any work in connection with the preparation or treatment of the foot of a horse for the immediate reception of a shoe thereon, the fitting by nailing or otherwise of a shoe to the foot or the finishing off of such work to the foot". The Farriers Registration Council (FRC) was established as a result of the 1975 Act to register persons engaged in farriery and the shoeing of horses; and to prohibit the shoeing of horses by unqualified persons.

A person is entitled to be registered in Part 1 of the Register held by the FRC if he/she satisfies the Council that they: (i) Have completed an approved apprenticeship or approved course of training and passed a prescribed examination. (ii) Hold a qualification obtained in another European Economic Area (EEA) State, which demonstrates a level of knowledge and skill corresponding to that at (i), or demonstrate any shortfall by training with an ATF or successfully completing a prescribed examination. (iii) Hold a Certificate of Experience, issued in accordance with EC Directive 99/42 which shows that he/she has appropriate professional experience in farriery in another state of the EEA (note: this equates to a minimum of six years experience). (iv) Are registered in Part II or IV of the Register and possess appropriate experience in shoeing horses in accordance with EC Directive 99/42 or pass a prescribed examination. (v) Have completed a course of training in the British Army and passed a prescribed examination. (vi) Hold a qualification recognised by the Council from outside the EEA and have two years subsequent experience in the shoeing of horses.

The Council recognises the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (Dip WCF) as a prescribed examination for the purposes of (i), (ii) and (iv) above. In the case of Army farriers, at (v) above, the Council recognises the Army Class II or IMFC as the prescribed examination. With regards to (vi) the WCF has reciprocal recognition of certain qualifications. The Diploma examination is also recognised as a Technical Certificate by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA)(now OFQUAL). The award requires candidates to meet the standards of competence set by the WCF together with the Apprenticeship framework including the attainment of the NVQ (level 3) in farriery. See the National Farriery Training Agency Website.


My horses live out. When I tried to make an appointment with a farrier over the phone and mentioned this fact he refused to come out to shoe them. Is this allowed?

A farrier is perfectly within his rights to refuse to shoe your horses in a field, but a better approach would have been for the farrier to explain why. When shoeing a horse the farrier first trims the feet ready for the acceptance of a shoe, ensuring that the horse is perfectly level. This would not be possible in a field. Secondly, a field can be very exposed making shoeing difficult. Thus, the farrier should have encouraged you to make alternative arrangements, perhaps with a local farmer or stable yard, to allow your horse to be shod on a solid surface with some protection against the elements. You will no doubt agree that the ultimate aim is to ensure the continued welfare and comfort of the horse. Top of page


My farrier is occasionally late for his appointments. What can I do about it?

In this case, a great deal will depend upon the professional relationship that exists between you and you farrier. Most farriers try to be helpful so, if a client asks "while you're here, would you trim this pony", the response will be to try to help out. Sadly, this can be the kind of thing that makes the farrier late for the next and subsequent appointments. Farriers are now tending to set out their Terms & Conditions so that farrier and client know and understand what each has to do. For example, if a date has been fixed the farrier might ask you to call the night before to advise you of the time of the appointment (anyone asking for additional work to be done would be invited to make an additional appointment). If the farrier is genuinely delayed, then it's easy enough to contact the client by telephone to advise of the delay (the wise farrier will have a full and easily accessible list of clients with mobile telephone numbers for just such an emergency). If your farrier continues to turn up late for appointments ask why, explain the frustration of 'hanging about waiting’, and suggest he calls you in future if there is likely to be a delay. Lateness is particularly galling for working owners who have to take time off work for a shoeing appointment. Top of page


I have a farriery related question not covered above. Who can I contact?

If your question is related to Examinations or qualifications, including Master Farrier, please contact the Registrar at registrar@wcf.org.uk.  If your question is related to the Craft of Farriery, including Competitions and Judges, please contact the Deputy Registrar at deputyregistrar@wcf.org.uk.  If your question relates to the City Livery Company then please contact the Clerk at theclerk@wcf.org.uk. Top of page


Section Two: Career Opportunities/Apprentices


My daughter wants to train as a farrier. What qualifications does she need, and how do I find out more?

The training of farriery apprentices in Great Britain is overseen by the three farriery colleges, under the regulation of the Farriers Registration Council. There are therefore, very close links between the work of the Worshipful Company, the Farriers Registration Council, and the Colleges. The normal period of training for an apprentice is four years and two months. The minimum age for candidates to start an Apprenticeship in Farriery is 16 years. There is no upper age limit.

Further details about the apprenticeship scheme are available from the Colleges (There is a link under 'links' on this website). To train as a farrier, an apprentice must be employed by an Approved Training Farrier (ATF). The ATF is a farrier who is able to fulfil the criteria laid down by the Farriers Registration Council in the apprenticeship framework. The role of the ATF is central to the concept of the apprenticeship in that he/she is responsible for the greater part of the apprentice training.

Apprenticeship training consists of two parts. Firstly, the "on-the-job" training with the ATF which takes up the majority of the time, and secondly the "off-the-job" training at a college. The training at college normally totals twenty-three weeks and is spread throughout the four years and two months of the apprenticeship. Candidates will have to achieve Key/Core Skills in Application of Number, and Communication, and College Certificates in Business Studies, and Information Technology (unless exempt due to prior learning), and successfully complete a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) at Level 3 in farriery as part of their training. The Diploma Examination is then taken towards the end of the final apprenticeship year.

On passing the Diploma, a person is entitled to hold the Company's Diploma certificate, to be recorded in the Company's Register and to use the letters DipWCF after his/her name. Overseas candidates can make an application to the Farriers Registration Council on the grounds of specific qualifications achieved and/ or a minimum of two years regular and gainful farriery experience in another country. Those without recognised qualifications or experience will be required to complete a short period of training or an apprenticeship and obtain the necessary qualifications for registration purposes. See www.farrierytraining.co.uk. Top of page


What is an ATF?

An ATF is an Approved Training Farrier, and only ATFs may employ farriery apprentices. To become an ATF a farrier must have been registered for at least 4 years or have obtained the Associateship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. He/she will need a fixed coke forge and premises suitable for shoeing a horse as well as a mobile gas forge. Before anyone is given the status of ATF they are required to attend a briefing on employment law, health and safety and equal opportunities. They must pass a test of shoemaking ability, and must achieve the nationally recognised L11 qualification in teaching and coaching. They will have to produce references from another farrier, a veterinary surgeon, and a client, as well as a certificate from their accountant showing that the business can support an apprentice. Lists of those ATFs seeking apprentices are available from the Farriery Training Agency. Top of page


Section three: the farrier


I have a DipWCF qualification. How do I go about gaining the higher qualifications? When are the next higher examinations, and where can I find details?

Higher Examinations are held twice per year in April and October. Details can be found on this website under AWCF. Top of page


How do I obtain Past Papers for the Diploma Examination?

Past Papers for the DipWCF can be obtained from the Registrar by downloading and completing the Aplication Form at this link. Past Papers. Top of page


I am a farrier from overseas and wish to take the DipWCF examination in UK. How do I go about it?

This information is supplied by the Farriers Registration Council as it deals with the regulation of farriers and the administration of the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 in Great Britain. The Act was made on animal welfare grounds to ensure that only suitably qualified persons practice farriery.

In order to practice farriery in GB it is necessary to be registered with the FRC. Generally speaking, it is a criminal offence for anyone other than a registered farrier, veterinary surgeon or approved farriery apprentice to carry out farriery./p>

The normal route for registration is by way of completing an approved apprenticeship as administered by the National Farrier Training Agency (www.farrierytraining.co.uk). It is four years and two months in duration and includes a Diploma work based qualification and at the conclusion the applicant must also be successful in the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers examination.

Farriers from overseas who have at least two years regular and gainful experience as a farrier ( ie it is their occupation but this can include time employed on a formal farriery apprenticeship) may apply for entry onto the approved apprenticeship. Applicants will receive credit for their prior experience and thus may complete a shortened apprenticeship but the exact nature of the credit is determined on an individual basis as a result of an assessment of the applicant’s practical skills and theoretical knowledge against the standards required for the Dip WCF. All such applications are dealt with through the offices of the FRC and full details of the applications procedure and the fees can be found on the website at www.farrier-reg.gov.uk/registration/overseas-application.

All applicants must have the necessary work permits or rights to work/study in GB and it is their responsibility to obtain such permission from the relevant authorities. Nationals from the European Union have additional options for registration, details of which can also be found on the website.

The Worshipful Company of Farriers is the awarding body for the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers examination. Full details of the syllabus are available on its website and it will also be able to advise you of any relevant options for taking their examination outside GB.

If you require any further details please contact the FRC. Top of page


I am a registered farrier. How much Continuing Professional Development am I expected to undertake?

Most farriers already undertake some form of professional development. You read articles, you talk to vets, you discuss techniques with other equine professionals, and you enter competitions. All this improves your ability to do your job as a farrier. CPD therefore is not new. However, the profession now needs to record these skills that you are acquiring, and ensure that all farriers undertake some form of professional development on an ongoing basis. If complaints are made about farriers they are seen in a much more serious light if the individual has not kept up with CPD. Equally it is a strong mitigation if modern practices are studied and followed.

The CPD Steering Group decided that a points system is the easiest means of measuring CPD. Every farrier should be aiming to gain 10 points per year averaged over a 3 year period.  

The Farriery CPD website is now live and CPD courses are shown so you can plan and book CPD, as well as the ability to record your CPD. The web site shows the points allocated for various types of CPD, and also those events and activities which cannot count towards CPD. More information may be found in the Continuing Professional Development section. Top of page


I have lost my DipWCF Certificate. How do I obtain a replacement?

An application form for a replacement certificate can be downloaded from Appendix 13 of the Examinations Manual. Top of page


I attended a recent WCF Conference. When is the next one?

Details of future CPD events can be found on this site from the menu on the left, or through the NAFBAE web site at www.nafbae.org.Top of page


Section four: general


I am researching my family history, and have a great grandfather who was a farrier. How do I find out more?

Sadly all Company records were destroyed during the blitz and the Registrar therefore only holds records since 1945.  He may be able to find entries providing an approximate date of qualification is provided.

All the Company's historical records are stored in the library at Guildhall.  Lists of apprentices, freemen, and Liverymen from 1610 onwards may be of assistance to anyone trying to trace their ancestors, and application may be made to the Library to view these.

The library is open Monday - Saturday, 9.30 - 4.45pm; telephone number 020 7332 1862.

Details of records available may be found on line via this link.Top of page