Course Syllabus (Spring, 2011)


AS 381                               Introduction to Farrier Science (3 credits)


Instructor:                    Rick Thomas BS, CJF

Office:                            Barn Loft

Phone:                               Extension 157 (586-9670 home)

Office Hours:               Monday and Tuesday 11:30-1:00

                                        Wednesday 4:30-5:30           




Course Description:


Students interested in using horsepower on the farm or in the forest will be faced with a myriad of challenges. To keep draft horses operating at peak efficiency, they must have sound hooves. Typically, a horse owner relies upon the work of a farrier to maintain hoof health and integrity. With an in-depth study of hoof anatomy and physiology, the impact of nutrition on hoof wall growth and a survey of the biomechanical analysis of gait coupled with proper tool selection and use and actual practice on live hooves, students will become independent of outside specialists in terms of hoof care. Students will learn to recognize quality hoof care and discern the difference between speculation and sound farrier theory, develop a trimming and horseshoeing plan for each horse with which they work, select, maintain, and use the appropriate tools for hoof care, and, as a benchmark, be prepared to pass selected sections of the apprentice-level written examination from the American Farriers Associaton.


Required Textbooks:


Ramey, P.  Making Natural Hoof Care Work for You (ISBN: 0-9658007-7-6)


Van Nassua: Hoof Problems (ISBN: 978-1-57076-382-3)


Online readings and resources available through the Sterling College Draft Horse Site


Supplemental readings will be assigned as appropriate and handed out in class or placed on reserve in the library.  Please note that some of the reserve readings come from my personal library and will be housed in my office.


Course Format and Assessment:


This course couples classroom instruction, self-directed learning projects, field observations and hoof care laboratories to create a interactive learning experience for the beginning hoof care specialist.  Weekly lectures focusing on lower limb anatomy and physiology along with gait and biomechanical analyses of moving horses plus learning essential techniques and tool selection for the farrier will support actual hands-on experiences trimming and shoeing horses.            


Self-directed Learning Project (SLP): You will choose one of three learning tracts to focus your independent study within this course.  While we as a class will touch on all three topics, you have the opportunity to dig deeper into the knowledge vault to explore one of these topics.  A SLP guide and grading rubric will be provided and while you may choose to have several products from this project, all I require is a well constructed 15 minute presentation at the end of the course.        


1. Natural Hoof Care


A growing number of horse owners are demanding that farriers learn the essential skills necessary to manage barefoot horses.  This tract will allow you to explore the connections between holistic hoof management and natural horse care and focus on trimming the barefoot horse.


2. Hoof ailments


Ranging from simple hoof wall distortions to major diseases of the hoof, this tract will allow you to delve into the literature and investigate the symptoms, cause, treatment, and prognosis for one or more common and not so common hoof defects.  



3. Horseshoeing


This tract will focus on the art of horseshoeing; once a hoof is trimmed and level, an appropriate shoe will be installed following the guidelines set forth in class.  Research in this tract might compare and contrast two different shoeing philosophies, explore shoeing for soundness, investigate shoeing for therapy, or discover myths and legends associated with farriers through the ages.  Restrictions apply, see me before embarking upon this SLP.    



Course Disclaimer:


Due to the dangerous nature of this course, I reserve the right to remove a student from class if I feel their judgment is impaired.  Please consider your actions and behaviors the night before a farrier lab; I recommend a good night’s sleep, breakfast (and lunch if the lab is in the afternoon), be well hydrated, and prepare yourself emotionally for the work.





Course Calendar        


Note: The readings assigned are to be completed prior to that week’s classroom session.


Week of:


Readings and Assignments


Lecture: Introduction to Farrier Science, Getting in the Right Mind—Core exercise routine


Van Nassua: Part 1/Chapters 1 and 2 (skim Chapter 3)

Ramey: Chapters 1 and 2


Hoof and Lower Limb Anatomy, Biomechanics of Equine Locomotion

Van Nassua: Part 2/Chapters 1-3

Ramey: Chapters 3-5


Transition to Natural Hoofcare and the Wild Horse Study


Van Nassua: Part 2/Chapter 4 (pgs. 113-144)

Ramey: Chapters 6-8


Good hooves gone bad

Van Nassua: Part 2/Chapter 4 (pgs. 144-end)


No Lecture: SLP Work Day

Reading: TBA


Anatomy Test


Nutrition concerns

Reading: TBA




To shoe or not to shoe…

Reading TBA


Therapeutic considerations



No Lecture: Thanksgiving Break



SLP Presentations: Block #1



SLP Presentation: Block #2