In 2011, a group of farriers saw the need for a trade organization that focused on education rather than certification. The result was the American Association of Professional Farriers, which welcomes farriers from all equine disciplines. Since its inception, 800 farriers have joined the AAPF.
In forming the new organization, the founders met with David Foley, executive director of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and ultimately drafted bylaws similar to those that govern the AAEP.
“The bylaws don't mirror the American Farrier's Association bylaws,” said Brian Quinsey, former executive director of the AFA (American Farrier's Association) who fills that same position with the AAPF. “There were so many things at the AFA that they didn't want to replicate, so they used the AAEP's bylaws to start the whole process.”
Steve Prescott, the president of the AAPF and one of its founders, said the new organization is not in competition with the long-established AFA; rather the two organizations complement each other, with many farriers holding membership in both groups. The AFA's primary focus is certification, and anyone contacting the AAPF about certification is referred to the AFA.
“Our big thing is continuing education,” Quinsey said. “We've created a system of recognizing and developing where continuing-education credits are offered for attendance at various clinics, watching webinars, reading books, all kinds of things. Those educational opportunities are offered all over the world — in Australia, Germany, England.”
In November 2012, farriers up north launched an affiliate organization, the Canadian Association of Professional Farriers.
Through the AAPF's continuing-education program, farriers can achieve two levels of accreditation — Accredited Farrier and Accredited Professional Farrier — that reflect their number of continuing-education hours and experience. Profiles of members on the AAPF website list the titles of the continuing-education courses they have completed, enabling the horse owner or trainer to see in which areas the member has advanced education.
The AAPF also offers courses that enable farriers to improve their business operations by showing them how to cut their losses and maximize profits.
A persistent frustration with the AFA has been its perceived discrimination against racetrack farriers, which some of them regard as being treated as second-class citizens in the organization's membership. The AAPF instead has reached out to racetrack farriers to draw them into its fold. Quinsey said a number of them have joined and have urged fellow racetrack farriers to do the same. Among its racetrack members are Wes Champagne, who shod American Pharoah, Steve Norman, who has shod a long list of stakes winners, and Curtis Burns, who developed the Polyflex shoe, a glue-on alternative to the aluminum racing plate.
The AAPF is developing more continuing education courses aimed at racetrack farriers, as well as specific courses for other disciplines. Some of the online courses are presented in conjunction with the American Farriers Journal.
In embracing the racetrack community, Honorary Lifetime Member status was bestowed on Ray Amato in 2013 as a tribute for his seven decades of work for the Thoroughbred racing industry's top trainers, including Hirsch Jacobs, Bobby Frankel, and more recently Todd Pletcher. Amato shod Pletcher-trained Super Saver for his winning Kentucky Derby run in 2010.
Farriers Helping Farriers
A key benefit of the AAPF is its Farrier Assistance Program. If a farrier is injured, fellow members volunteer their services to maintain his or her clients for up to three months, and the injured farrier gets to keep the money earned by the helping-hand farriers. If necessary, the AAPF pays for the volunteer's travel and lodging.
“It helps you get back on your feet,” said Pat Broadus, the AAPF's membership chairman. “You don't lose your clients because the [help] is from out of your area, and because they're qualified in your field, your customers are happy. There is a feel-good quality to it, too, because you feel like you've helped your fellow farrier out.”
The Broadus family of well-known racetrack farriers — father Sonny and sons Pat and Chris — all are members of the AAPF.
Pat Broadus added, “I think racetrack farriers have been alienated for too long. We're kind of like the black sheep. The AAPF really does welcome every farrier with open arms. There is so much that the AAPF offers everybody, not only the racetrack farriers. There's a community out there that has been segregated for so long that I think we all need to come together, because at the end of the day, we all are farriers.”
Membership in the AAPF is $200 annually. For information about other member benefits, visit www.professionalfarriers.com.
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