Teaching trades: Wyoming School of Horseshoeing prepares students for farrier career
Located on the Wyoming/Colorado border, the Wyoming School of Horseshoeing (WSOH) is located on the historic Terry Bison Ranch and aims to prepare students for careers as a farrier.
“Our overall goal is to provide well educated professionals who have the knowledge and skills to work on horses and enter the market competitively,” says Marketing and Special Promotions Director Amy Hoskins. Amy also oversees the administration of WSOH.
“This school is special,” she says. “People could go to a community college and do classwork and labs, but WSOH allows students to complete their program on a working ranch with a rich history.”
The Terry Bison Ranch was originally home to the first governor of Wyoming and students stay in a bunkhouse built in 1937 and used by the cowboys employed by the ranch.
“CEO Dan Thiel really has a vision for the entirety of Terry Bison Ranch and the horseshoeing school is one way he can give back to the community,” says Amy. “The school was started in 2016 to provide an avenue for interested students to learn the correct way of shoeing a horse and honing their skills as a farrier.”
The school welcomes students from all over the world, with some coming from as far as Canada and the East Coast, with an average of 50 students per year.
“We have all ages, but students have to be 18 to attend,” says Amy. “Some students are kids who grew up on ranches and want to start a career and others are older and looking to shoe as more of a hobby. We really have a large variety.”
Amy notes students can choose between a two-four-or-eight week course, the eight-week course being the most comprehensive.
“The main goal of the school is to teach students how to properly shoe and trim horses,” says Amy. “While they will learn the basics of forging, we really focus on the shoeing and trimming aspects of being a farrier.”
According to WSOH, the two-week course is an entry-level class.
“The classroom portion of this introductory course focuses on the basic anatomy of bones, tendons and ligaments of the leg,” says WSOH. “Students will also explore some common diseases and lameness of the leg and proper methods of treatment.”
WSOH continues, “The horse work and forging portion of this course will focus on the basics of safely trimming hooves and nailing a shoe on the foot. Students learn proper body positioning under the horse, functional use of tools while under the horse and basic horsemanship skills related to body language and approach.”
“The forging portion includes a background in differences and applications of shoes, sizes and nails,” says WSOH. “Students also learn basic shoe shaping techniques while using the forge to better match a shoe to the hoof.”
Amy notes most of the students who choose the two-week course do so to tune up their skills to work on their own horses, though they don’t recommend graduates of this course work on others’ horses.
WSOH describes the four-week course as intermediate and ideal for students looking for a deeper understanding of horseshoeing and working as a farrier.
The classroom aspect of this course continues with bone anatomy and function, tendon and ligament purpose, and a more in depth look at pathology of injuries and diseases of the horse.
“The horse and forging portion of this course includes the basics of making a standard shoe from scratch, practice of simple shoe modifications using the forge and proper applications of these modifications to hooves,” says WSOH. “Students also gain valuable time building confidence and ability while under the horse.”
WSOH continues, “Graduates from our intermediate course will leave with a well-rounded knowledge of the functioning leg of the horse, awareness of common lameness and diseases and the ability to modify shoes at a worksite therefore becoming more marketable to clients.”
According to Amy, the most comprehensive of the three courses is the eight-week course.
“This is our ‘pro-class’ course and is the highest level offered at the school,” WSOH boasts. “In the classroom, students will examine the detailed hoof structure, aspects of blood circulation and a thorough analysis of conformation and gaits of horses.”
They continue, “There will also be further exploration of disease of the horse, and tendencies that cause lameness with relation to conformation and gaits.”
“Horse and forging aspects of this course involves the most time under the horse while continuing to build confidence and ability – the place a farrier spends the most time,” says WSOH. “This is a complete blend of basic fundamentals of trimming, to the professional adaptation of properly shoeing each individual horse. In front of the forge, students continue to learn more shoe modifications and begin to refine their abilities of making shoes by hand.”
Amy notes students who are using the GI bill through the U.S. military may apply the bill to cover the costs of the eight-week course.
Students can also utilize funds associated with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act through the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.
Amy notes they recommend students pursue an apprenticeship following completion of their program to fine-tune their skills.
“Even if the student is from farther away, we put our feelers to assist them in finding an apprenticeship if they so desire,” she says. “We don’t like to fail people.”
For more information, visit wyomingschoolofhorseshoeing.com.
Callie Hanson is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.