In the UK, the training to become a registered farrier takes over 4 years, a combination of college based learning and apprenticeship.
There's no doubt that farrier training here is undoubtedly some of the most detailed in the world, and (understandably!) this is often contrasted unfavourably with the lack of training and regulation of barefoot practitioners.
So lets look at the reality:
- Farrier training DOES last for 4+ years, and covers shoeing and trimming. In this time the course also deals extensively with making tools and shoes.
- At worst barefoot "trimmers" can practice with absolutely no training, completely self-taught, and there are also lots of "learn to trim in a weekend"-type courses out there, which certainly don't inspire confidence, either in horse-owners or other equine professionals. HOWEVER, although the law isn't changing, standards are, and from now on, all barefoot practitioners should be trained to a new national occupational standard (or NOS), "Equine Barefoot Care", which I talked about here. It is up to owners to check who their practitioner trained with, though, as training to this standard is not a legal requirement.
- There is a farriery NOS as well, which sets the standards for farrier training, and this has just been revised. There are a few elements (trimming, anatomy and physiology) which are common to both NOS, but the farriery NOS does not train for barefoot and the barefoot NOS does not train for shoeing (though there are a few dual-qualified practitioners within UKNHCP).
- Finally, while there is nothing wrong with a training course lasting for 4 years, there are many good, thorough training courses which are very much shorter. For instance, Andy teaches post-graduate law students, whose accelerated course for corporate and commercial law lasts 7 months - and they are going to some of the toughest law firms in the country ;-) The UKNHCP course (which follows the current barefoot NOS) is a little more leisurely, as we allow students 15-18 months to complete their training.