|Certification History-An Examiner Looks Back|
The Beginnings of AFA Certification
Dennis C. Manning, CJF
Several firsts occurred during my first AFA Convention, April 1977, held just outside Denver, Colorado. Included were the first AFA horseshoeing and forging contest and the inception of certification. (It was also the first time I had been around other professional horseshoers, having basically been self taught up to that point.) An invitation was extended to all interested individuals at the convention to meet one evening to discuss possibilities of certification or licensing. I sat with the small group as a silent observer. AFA President Walt Taylor was there, of course, but I don’t recall the others. The struggle to develop a certification program for the AFA began from seeds planted at that informal meeting. As the program began to take form local chapters were encouraged to conduct their own testing using their own standards and measurements then recommend individuals for “AFA Certification”.
After returning to Utah I was granted permission through the AFA office to conduct the first AFA Certification exams in Utah. That took place in the spring of 1982 in front of my home near where The FORGE now stands. The late Ray Payne and I acted as testers. Mike DeLeonardo and Shane Carter were among those to pass the Basic Certification exams that day. The Basic Certification was later revised to become the AFA Certified Farrier (CF).
Finally, in January 1983, a comprehensive essay exam was officially adopted for Journeyman Certification. The exam was mailed directly to a local veterinarian. He locked me in his office where I frantically wrote for the allotted one hour. The veterinarian then mailed the exam back to the AFA where it was scored by certification chair Bruce Daniels. (That exam was every bit as difficult as the present day exam.)
The idea of AFA examiners had been developing in an effort to truly standardize the program. After promising to sit in the corner and be “as quiet as a mouse” I had been reluctantly granted permission by Bruce Daniels to sit in on certification meetings at the Houston TX 1983 convention where this was discussed. By the end of the meetings the principle of having an official AFA Approved Examiner at all AFA Examinations was firmly established. I was appointed to be an Examiner and became a member of the committee.
When Bruce Daniels was elected AFA President in 1986, he asked Myron McLane to take over the National Contest and me to take over the Certification program. Myron and I had been on the AFA Team (then the North American Horseshoeing Team) and had acted as judges for the AFA National Contest. Bruce had been running both certification and the contests up to that point. For the next seventeen years each succeeding AFA president ask both of Myron and me to stay on. After being replaced as certification chair I continued as an Examiner and a few years later was invited to rejoin the committee.
During the seventeen years I served as chair there was a major overhaul of the AFA Certification program. Basic Certification became AFA Certified Farrier (CF) with the development of a more challenging written exam and the addition of a shoe display requirement. The AFA Certified Journeyman Farrier (CJF) written exam was changed from essay, which was difficult and time consuming to score, to multiply choice questions. The forging of a barshoe was added to the CJF practical exam.