The terms “profession” and “professional” have become very popular in the farrier community in recent years. This is perfectly understandable, since professionals are, by definition, more highly valued and compensated than lay workers. But it takes more to be a professional than calling yourself one. Qualifying to practice in a true profession involves years of training and study, as well as meeting a formal standard of competence.
Farriers often feel that their individual reputations are sufficient to establish them as professionals. While the value of a well-earned reputation cannot be overstated, all reputations are essentially based on comparison. When horse owners refer to Dr. Jones as “one of the best vets in the area”, they are comparing him to a group of highly trained and tested professional veterinarians. When horse owners say that a farrier is “the best horseshoer around,” they are comparing him to a group that includes untrained beginners and half-hearted pretenders. By defining “professional farrier” with a valid formal credential standard, we can raise the quality of the group each farrier is compared to, creating a higher, more solid foundation upon which individual reputations can be built.