The United Kingdom Horse Shoers Union

The voice of the farrier.

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A letter from the Scottish Executive:

POSSIBLE EXTENSION OF THE FARRIERS (REGISTRATION) ACT TO COVER THE HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS OF SCOTLAND

This Discussion Letter seeks your views on a proposal by the Farriers Registration Council (FRC), of which many of you will already be aware to require all farriers who practise in the Highlands and Islands to be registered with the FRC, as is the case with farriers practising in all other areas of Scotland.

At present, regulation 16 (offences by unregistered persons) ¹ of the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 (as amended) does not apply in the following areas:

(i) Highland Region
(ii) Western Isles Islands Area
(iii) Orkney Islands Area
(iv) Shetland Islands Area, and
(v) all other islands.

There is, therefore, currently no regulation of who may practise farriery in these areas.

It is appreciated that the adoption of such a proposal would require the introduction of various transitional measures to ensure that horse owners in the Highlands and Islands areas were not suddenly deprived of a farriery service. The issue of transitional measures is addressed further on in this Discussion Letter.

  ¹ Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 (Commencement No.3) Order 1981 (SI 1981 No.767 (C.17) (S.18): ISBN 011 016767 8

Background

As many of you may know, in June 2003 the FRC issued a consultation paper to various interested parties in Scotland, including, among others, registered farriers, veterinary practices and equine associations seeking views on the desirability of extending the provisions of regulation 16 of the 1975 Act to cover the Highlands and Islands areas. A copy of a summary of responses received to that consultation is enclosed for your information. With their consultation paper, the FRC enclosed a Background Note, much of which is replicated below for the benefit of those Interested Parties who may not have received a copy.

The Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 is “an Act to prevent and avoid suffering by and cruelty to horses arising from the shoeing of horses by unskilled persons; to promote the proper shoeing of horses; to promote the training of farriers and shoeing smiths; to provide for the establishment of a Farrier Registration Council to register persons engaged in farriery and the shoeing of horses; to prohibit the shoeing of horses by unqualified persons; and for purposes connected therewith”.

The Act was passed in Parliament in 1975 and was fully implemented in England and Wales in 1980 and, in Scotland, (with the exception of regulation 16 applying to the Highlands and Islands areas), in 1981. The reason for excluding the Highlands and Islands areas from the provisions of regulation 16 of the Act was that when the Bill was discussed in the House of Lords, a number of their Lordships expressed concern that there might not be enough farriers in the Highlands and Islands areas who would be eligible for registration to carry out all the work necessary and, that as a result, horse owners might have to break the law and shoe their horses themselves or leave them unshod.

Where the Act applies, the only people who may carry out an act of farriery are registered farriers and farriery apprentices, veterinary surgeons and veterinary students, and people rendering first aid in case of emergency to a horse.

Farriery is defined within the Act as “any work 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”. What this means is that, if the foot will finish up shod, any work such as trimming counts as farriery. If the foot will not be shod, at the end of the process, trimming does not count as farriery and anyone may carry it out.

Following the introduction of the Act, the number of registered farriers has increased steadily and, according to the FRC, the number of apprentices in training has gone up in GB from some 150 to approximately 350 (2003 figures). Originally, farriers were allowed to enter the Register on the basis of 2 years’ prior experience, but now everyone entering the Register must either have been trained and have passed a prescribed examination or must have at least 6 years’ experience in another European Economic Area State.

The Register is split into 4 Parts. Those in Parts II, III and IV are qualified by virtue of their experience at the time the Farriers (Registration) Acts were introduced. Those in Part III are allowed to shoe horses but are not allowed to carry out farriery by way of trade or reward. Those in Part I have completed an approved apprenticeship and passed an examination to demonstrate their ability or have a minimum of six years experience, either in Parts II or IV of the Register, or as certified by a competent authority in another EEA state.

Apprentice farriers must be indented to an Approved Training Farrier (ATF) and any farrier wishing to train others must be properly qualified and must be able to demonstrate an ability to teach.

Any horse owner or member of the public who has reasonable grounds for complaint about the professional conduct of a registered farrier may lodge a formal complaint, and any farrier found guilty of serious misconduct in a professional respect can be suspended or removed from the Register.

Reasons for Extending the Provisions of Regulation 16 of the Act to Cover the Highlands and Islands Areas of Scotland

Applying the above provisions would ensure that:

1) all persons shoeing horses would be regulated, would be expected to abide by a code of conduct, and would be subject to disciplinary penalties in the event of serious professional misconduct;

2) more extensive lists of registered farriers would be available from the FRC, free of charge, to horse owners and members of the public;

3) all registered farriers would be encouraged to remain up-to-date in their training, take part in a programme of Continuing Professional Development and develop good working relationships with local veterinary practices;

4) following initial transitional arrangements to admit existing farriers onto the Register, all new entrants to the craft would be properly trained and would be required to pass a prescribed examination; and

5) farriers based in the Highlands and Islands areas would be able to carry out farriery in the rest of the UK without committing a criminal offence.

Horse owners should be aware of this proposal because an unregistered farrier could not validly insure himself against claims made by horse owners for negligent work. Horse owners could, in turn, invalidate their own horse insurance by using an unregistered farrier.

Reasons Against Extending the Provisions of Regulation 16 of the Act to Cover the Highlands and Islands Areas of Scotland

Concerns about extending the above provisions have been expressed for the following reasons:

1) in the more sparsely populated areas there is not enough farriery work to keep many full-time farriers employed;

2) owners would not be able to shoe their own horses unless registered with the FRC;

3) in the remoter areas, such as the outer islands, it might be difficult to get a farrier at short notice; and

4) part-time farriers might be reluctant to pay the annual Retention Fee.

Solutions to Possible Concerns

The FRC believe that there is no reason why a registered farrier needs to be in full-time employment as a farrier and, indeed, argue that many registered farriers already work part-time. Thus, anyone in the Highlands and Islands areas who is already being paid to shoe on a regular, but not necessarily full-time, basis would be eligible for entry into the Register and could continue until retirement on a similar basis.

There is already provision for horse owners and others to carry out first aid in an emergency, until such time as a registered farrier or veterinary surgeon can attend.

The annual Retention Fee for registered farriers is currently £118 and so should not be an unreasonable imposition on even part-time farriers.

Transitional Measures

If it were ultimately decided to extend the provisions of regulation 16 of the Act to the Highlands and Islands areas, it would be necessary to introduce various transitional measures to ensure that horse owners were not suddenly left without a farrier.

Parts II, III and IV still exist, although entry to them is currently closed. As part of the transitional measures, the FRC consider that there does not seem to be any reason why entry to Parts II, III and IV could not be allowed for a limited period. Thereafter, new entrants would be expected to receive proper training and pass a prescribed examination. Your views as to how long a period of time such transitional measures should run would be very welcome. Also, we would be glad to hear of any proposals that you may have in ensuring such measures are implemented as smoothly and as fairly as possible.

Conclusions

The FRC believe that full implementation of the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 has raised the standards of farriery. The FRC believe that it has also resulted in better quality training and a doubling in the numbers of new entrants to the craft. It is interesting to note that even though there is no legal requirement to be registered in either the Highlands or Islands areas, a number of farriers working in these areas have, according to the FRC, chosen to be registered and many more are working towards acquiring the professional qualifications to allow them to register.

The Highlands and Islands areas of Scotland were exempted from the application of the provisions regulation 16 of the Act because of fears that there might not be enough registered farriers to carry out all necessary work. Although some will still have these fears, the FRC consider that sensible use of transitional measures should ensure that there would be no adverse effects from introducing the provisions of regulation 16 of the Act to the Highlands and Islands areas. Professional standards and numbers of registered farriers would, as a result, be expected to rise over time as has, according to the FRC, happened in the rest of Great Britain. It is worth noting that our colleagues in the State Veterinary Service, who offer professional advice to all GB Rural Affairs Departments, are of the view that there is probably now a sufficient number of registered farriers, or farriers capable of becoming registered, to service the Highlands and possibly all of the Islands and would thus favour extension of the provisions of regulation 16 of the Act as proposed by the FRC.

Your views on the FRC’s proposal are welcome. Even if many of you responded to the FRC’s consultation in 2003, your views would again be valuable, as the Executive wishes to gauge opinions from a Scottish perspective.

Please email either UKHSU or allan.mcfarlane@scotland.gsi.gov.uk if you would like your views represented to the Scottish Executive, or Talk About it on the Horses Mouth Discussion Board.

Views from unregistered farriers in the area are particularly sought. Responses should be in by 31st March 2005.

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