The Company has a long history of encouraging training beyond the set standards, from those at pre-qualification apprenticeship level, right through to the supervising, examining, and eventually ‘Father of the Company’ level. The Company supports all who work in the farriery field to undertake specialist training and continue their own professional development throughout their careers. Successful candidates are presented with their WCF examination certificate at the Company's biannual ceremony at the Armoury House, Honourable Artillery Company.
Achievement of the Diploma means that newly qualified Farriers have their feet firmly placed on the first rung of the farriery ladder. They have been judged by an eminent panel of examiners as competent to prepare a foot and, if required, to apply a shoe.
It’s worth noting here that not every horse is shod. For example, retired horses or brood mares may only need their feet trimmed; and some riders prefer to work their horses without shoes. Whether it’s for a trim or the application of a shoe, the best qualified person to do the work is the farrier.
The most critical aspect of farriery is preparing the hoof and Approved Training Farriers and training colleges spend a great deal of time teaching apprentices how to assess a horse’s feet, and how to trim correctly.
The next level of attainment is the Associateship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (AWCF). This is particularly concerned with corrective farriery.
To attain the AWCF, candidates sit a written exam and also undergo four oral examinations, a practical test (requiring the fabrication of a shoe from plain steel) and the correct fitting of two corrective shoes; plus a test in the use of modern materials (for example, using acrylics to repair a damaged hoof).
The examination sets out to test forging and practical skills to the highest level. As there is no equivalent exam in any other country, it is quite common for Farriers from abroad to attempt the AWCF.
The WCF often runs courses for Diploma holders to prepare them for the Associateship – an essential component of continuing professional development (CPD).
The highest level of qualification is the Fellowship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (FWCF). This denotes a very high level of achievement and the relatively small number of Fellows is a testament to this. The candidate must prepare a written original thesis for consideration by a panel of senior WCF examiners.
If the thesis is accepted, the candidate must then deliver a lecture to the examiners on a subject of their choosing with only 60 minutes preparation time. The examiners also require the forging of a corrective shoe from plain steel.
Successful Fellowship candidates may, in due course, be invited to become members of the WCF Examinations Board thus maintaining the high standards set by the Company and keeping British Farriery at the forefront of the profession to the point where highly qualified British Farriers are often invited to other countries to help elevate standards.
The term ‘Master Farrier’ is a trademark and can only be used by Associates and Fellows of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (WCF). The company applied for the trademark after realising the term was being used by Farriers without any restriction.
Farriers wishing to refer to themselves as master Farriers, and use the WCF Heraldic badge, must apply to the Company. Holders of the Associateship (AWCF) and Fellowship (FWCF) do not automatically become Master Farriers.