I mean that anyone can join the association, Vets, horsepeople, blacksmiths, farriers. Because they join doesn't neccesarily mean they are a good farrier, just a member.
But to be certified as a CF, CTF, or CJF by the AFA is a huge deal. My former farrier was a judge for the test takers, he said the test is very hard. I think he said the failure rate taking the certification test is about 50%.
Just to clarify, the failure rate for first time candidates standing for the AFA CF exam is not 50%. The actual fail rate is about 80%! Yeah, it's that tough.
When I stood for the exam at Heartland Horseshoeing School the pass rate for those having completed the National Certification Course was 40%. (I was one of the 40%). That was considered a huge success for the school and Chris Gregory.
Those who showed up for the exams but did not go through the certification course prior to the test fell back into the 80% fail rate.
I'd recommend all horse owners attend an AFA exam site in a spectator capacity. It will give you a real appreciation for just how high the AFA sets the bar for quality and competency. It will also give you a fair idea of what basic, proper horseshoeing should look like.
You really can't appreciate just how difficult the exams can be until you see a test candidate drop to their knees and throw their guts up in exhaustion.
The UK exams are even tougher. Very few Americans have made it to that level.
The bar was just recently raised by the introduction of the FITS exam in the US. This is the Farrier's International Testing System put together by Chris Gregory of HHS. 2012 will be the first time this test is available in the US. Chris developed the exam for farriers in Brazil and South Africa.
The newly created American Association of Professional Farriers went public on January 1st of this year. It is the first time in the US that anyone is going to provide academic accreditation of continuing education for farriers.
This means that horse owners will finally be able to go to a website and see how prospective farriers invest themselves in annual CE. Horse owners can register with the AAPF and participate in the horse owner forum section at no charge. Horse owners can also submit private, written questions that will be reviewed by AAPF member farriers and veterinarians. American Association of Professional Farriers