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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

British Government: "Barefoot Trimmer" Doesn't Describe the Job

by Fran Jurga | 18 November 2008 | www.hoofcare.blogspot.com

The results are in and analyzed from a government-run, nationwide survey of the job practices and educational training of Great Britain's barefoot hoof practitioners. Please note that the results of this survey apply only to hoof trimmers residing in Great Britain.

Among the conclusions drawn by the government agency "Lantra" is that "barefoot trimmer" isn't a good title and is not accurate in describing the services provided.

Lisa Jarvis, Lantra's Industry Parnership Manager for Professions Allied to Veterinary Science (PAVS), said in a press release that the public may be confused about the scope of services provided by a barefoot trimmer, as would a veterinarian seeking to work with a trimmer on the case, according to Jarvis.

Jarvis plans to work with trimmers to come up with a better job title. "Equine podiatrist" was a descriptive term mostoften used by the trimmers to describe themselves.

The statistics gained from the study are fascinating. For instance
· 65% of respondents were female
· Over half were aged 35-44, 21% aged 45-54
· 100% white ethnic background
• 71% were working as trimmers after leaving another career
• More than half had less than three years of experience; only 7% had been working as trimmers for more than six years.
• 89% stated that they believed they held a relevant qualification to do their jobs.

As with all surveys, the results compile responses from those who responded, and little is known about those who did not respond.

Things get interesting when the trimmers were asked what they did on the job. Trimming feet and assessing environment, soundness, gait analysis, structure and function of hooves, hoof health, and diet/nutrition were listed as job activities by 95% of those surveyed.

A similar survey of equine dental technicians found that that field, too, is populated by second-career choosers.

The conclusion of the study is that the government should develop standards for both trimmers and equine dental technicians "to allow clear identification of the practical skills and underpinning knowledge required to undertake these roles professionally...other professional and regulatory bodies for veterinary science and farriery should be consulted and involved with the development process".

Great Britain is home to an estimated 500 people who are believed to be earning a living by trimming horses' hooves.

It's interesting to note that a functional "map" of the farrier profession in Great Britain compiled in 2006 points out the pressures of changing technology in farriery and the need for more training in that area but does not mention the popularity of barefoot trimming and any possible services in that area that farriers might provide, creating an "either/or" situation for horse owners.

Consider this: becoming a farrier in Britain requires a four-year apprenticeship, college study, examinations, a considerable investment in tools and inventory, and ongoing compliance with occupational regulations and government doctrines. Entering barefoot trimming requires no training, college or exams, very low initial investment and overhead, and almost no government oversight unless a welfare violation charge is made. That said, many British barefoot trimmers seem interested in continuing education and advancement, perhaps moreso than average farriers, and trimmers must pay tuition for their education out of their own pockets.

Read more about how and why the survey was conducted in the Hoof Blog's article from January 2008.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. Permissions for use elsewhere are usually easily arranged.

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