How farriers’ registration act prevents cruelty to horses
By ANDREW POYNTON FWCF
Farriers are highly skilled craftsman.
THE state of farriery in Great Britain
through the 1950s, 60s and into the 70s
suffered from the post World War II decline
of the horse’s importance in both
commercial and agricultural sectors.
This resulted in many highly skilled
craftsmen leaving the trade.
Thankfully, there were some master farriers
who continued to practice and pass on their
expertise to their apprentices.
With the resurgence of the horse for
recreational use in the later 60s there was a dearth of well trained farriers, so
many people attempted to do the job themselves, sadly at the expense of the horse.
As a result, the Worshipful Company of Farriers and the National Association of Farriers
Blacksmiths and Agricultural Engineers, lobbied the government to bring about changes.
This led to the Farriers Registration Act of 1975 with minor amendments made in 1977
and 2002 to bring it in line with European Commission Directives.
This was and is an animal welfare act; ‘to prevent suffering by cruelty to horses
arising from the shoeing of horses by unskilled persons; to promote the training
of farriers; to provide for the establishment of a Farriers Registration Council
register any persons engaged in farriery, and to prohibit the shoeing of horses by
It became law that all currently practicing farriers should be registered and all
entering the trade complete an apprenticeship culminating in passing the trade test
– the Diploma of the Worshipful
Company of Farriers.
The all time low standards of farriery in the 60s were turned around and the science
of farriery is back on track promoting a high level of craftsmanship and theoretical
The particular issues the FRC has raised are:
Any EU member can establish themselves in another EU nation purely on the basis of
six years experience.
That farriery is included under metalworking, not animal welfare.
Although the Directive makes provision for the use of Common Platforms for developing
common EU standards, these have not been implemented.
EU members established in one country may offer temporary and occasional services
in another member nation on the basis of only two years experience and without any
check on their competence.
These temporary service providers must be registered without payment of any fee,
unlike UK Registered Farriers, and appear to have freedom to renew their temporary
status without limit.
That said, it is important to keep matters in perspective, there is no evidence of
a flood of applicants as yet.
Should that change or welfare issues, or any other difficulties arise, such as wholesale
abuse of the system, these will be reported to government departments and assistance
This article first appeared in Horse Health Magazine, August/ September 2008
However, despite representations from all interested UK bodies, on the grounds that
it could have an adverse effect on equine welfare and undermine the UK’s system of
formal training, qualification and registration, the European Commission (EC) requires
changes to UK farriery legislation.