Legal requirements for practising as a farrier

The practice of farriery is governed by the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 (F(R)A 1975). The main purpose of the Act is to prevent and avoid suffering by and cruelty to horses arising from the shoeing of horses by unskilled persons.

What is a farrier?

A farrier is defined, under F(R)A 1975, as a person who works in connection with the preparation or treatment of the foot of a horse for the immediate reception of a shoe thereon, the fitting by nailing or otherwise of a shoe to the foot or the finishing off of such work to the foot.

Registration requirements

The Farriers Registration Council (FRC) was established by F(R)A 1975. It keeps and maintains a register of farriers. Registration is mandatory. A fee is payable by the farrier upon making an application for registration.

Registration is open to those who:

  • hold an approved UK qualification, eg the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (DipWCF);
  • hold a European farriery qualification;
  • have sufficient professional farriery experience obtained in another European state.

Those who hold a European farriery qualification can only be registered after the FRC has assessed their education and training to ensure it meets their requirements. If not, they must undertake a period of training under an Approved Training Farrier (ATF) or pass an aptitude test of diploma standard.

Those who have operated in a European state where farriery is not regulated must also provide evidence that they practised farriery on a full-time basis for two years in the past 10 years.

Those applying from another overseas country, have two or more years’ farriery experience but do not hold a recognised qualification need to:

  • take the DipWCF examination;
  • complete a set number of weeks at an approved training college, including completion of the NVQ Level 3 in Farriery and then the DipWCFexamination;
  • take an apprenticeship with an ATF, including completion of the NVQ Level 3 in Farriery and then the DipWCF examination.

It is a criminal offence, punishable by a fine, for a person to wilfully procure or attempt to procure his registration by providing false or fraudulent information.

The register

The Register is divided into five parts. Only Parts 1 and 5 are open to new registrants.

  • Farriers in Parts 1, 2, 4 and 5 may carry out farriery as a business.
  • Farriers in Part 3 may only carry out farriery on their own and other horses but not for trade or reward.
  • Persons listed in Part 5 are farriers established in other areas of the EEA who are entitled to provide a temporary and occasional service within Britain under the terms of EC Directive 2005/36 concerning the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications. Their registration status must be renewed on an annual basis.

Consequences of not registering

Where an unregistered person carries out any farriery (unless they are serving on an approved apprenticeship or are training at an approved institution; are a vet; trainee vet working under the supervision of a qualified vet; or are rendering emergency first-aid) then they commit a criminal offence, punishable by a fine.

It is also a criminal offence, punishable by a fine, for an unregistered person to call himself as a ‘farrier’, ‘shoeing smith’ or describe himself in a manner which would lead another person to believe that he is registered.

FRC powers

The FRC has an investigating committee and a disciplinary committee.

The investigating committee deals with the preliminary investigation of cases where an allegation has been made that a person should be removed or suspended from the register.

The disciplinary committee has the power to order the removal of a person from the register or the suspension of a person from the register for a specified period where:

  • a person is judged by the disciplinary committee to be guilty of serious misconduct in any professional respect;
  • the disciplinary committee finds that a person was not in fact qualified for registration;
  • a person has been convicted of a criminal offence involving cruelty to animals;
  • the disciplinary committee finds that a person registered as a temporary or occasional farrier is no longer is entitled to carry out farriery.

There is a right of appeal against the removal of a person’s name from the register.

The FRC is required to remove deceased persons from the register and persons who have asked to be removed.

What is the WCF?

F(R)A 1975 gave the WCF the general responsibility for securing the adequate standards of competence and conduct of farriers. The Act also requires the WCF to promote, encourage and advance the art and science of farriery and farriery education. Many of the qualifications approved by the FRC are awarded by the WCF.

Article written by...
Lucy Trevelyan LLB
Lucy Trevelyan LLB

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Lucy graduated in law from the University of Greenwich, and is also an NCTJ trained journalist. A legal writer and editor with over 20 years' experience writing about the law.