Cornell Farrier Program Admits First All-Female Class

After more than 100 years, the Cornell Farrier Program has admitted its first all-female class, which Paige Maxxam, Kahlan Schramm and Kerry Spain. These women will complete the program in April and use their training to enter as apprentices into a field where skilled workers are in high demand.

Steven Kraus, a 1970 grad, is the head of farrier services and a senior lecturer in the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. He notes that more women are becoming involved with farriery, which mimics the trend in veterinary medicine as a whole.

Women have outnumbered men in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program at the College of Veterinary Medicine since 1980; the fall 2017 entering DVM class was 83 percent female, with 336 women and 100 men. Currently, there are fewer than 3,000 female farriers in the United States—about 10 percent of all farriers, though that trend is shifting.

The first female farrier to enter the Cornell program was Toni Hanna in 1972. Toni disguised herself as a man when she came in to interview, worried that she would not be admitted if it was known she was female.

The admissions criteria for the program is rigorous, and students in the Cornell program must have a background in horses, though they need not have experience with a forge. Even for those students who are familiar with horses, being under them while shoeing them is much different than working with or riding them. This program is one of the only courses in the United Stated to be affiliated with a veterinary teaching hospital.

The curriculum for future farriers begins with the basics, learning body position and technique before beginning more-advanced instruction. Partnering with a teaching hospital means the students see patients that may be more-complicated issues than what they are learning at the time, but the students are expected to learn from whatever situation is presented to them.

The majority of the farrier students are not enrolled in the University; they complete a 16-week course that runs simultaneously with the college. Guided farrier education is required by the state of New York as part of a land-grant university. Land-grant schools are dedicated to the providing scientific and technical education alongside studies in history and literature.

Students in the farrier school will then be tested on criteria established by the American Farriers Association (AFA), though they are not required to take the AFA certification exams.

In addition to training new farriers, the Cornell program also offers continuing educations sessions for professional farriers.

Read more at the Cornell Chronicle.

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