14 May 2013

FITS Testing in Australia

Submitted by Jocelyn Constant

Fits Testing In Australia  Australia’s first FITS exam was conducted on 3/5, May 2013 at Hawkesbury TAFE New South Wales about 1 hour’s drive from Sydney. The FITS Exam is the brain child of Chris Gregory FWCF. Chris is from the U.S, many of us know Chris from comps or clinics he has conducted and or his books and articles he has written over the years. Chris recognized the need for an international testing system that can be conducted world wide in the interest of improving the farrier’s skills, and improving the lives of the horses they work on. To this end, he created the FITS so that different countries could share a high standard and their farriers could improve by setting and achieving an extreme goal.  . FITS testing has been conducted in other countries that are in a similar situation to us in Australia. Such as South Africa and Brazil.  Both these countries have adopted FITS as there national exams. The ultimate goal is that farriers who want international recognition can achieve this without the need to leave their own country. Over the past years many of our young farriers in both Australia and New Zealand have had to move and work over seas in order to achieve this recognition, at the expense of our horse industry. We are very fortunate in Australia to have an active apprenticeship system in most of our states that is supported by both government and the industry alike. However nothing was available for farriers to improve themselves once they had completed their apprenticeship. With something in place like FITS Australian farriers can now set high goal to work towards that are recognized around the globe. The test it self was held over 3 days and there are two levels available, one is certified farrier and the other Advanced Skill Farrier. I will point out this was a test! The farriers involved were tested beyond anything we have ever had in Australia before.  The FITS in Australia was set up by Bob Sim who for those who don’t know is one of our trade school teachers in NSW .Bob spoke to Chris while at the World Champion Blacksmiths comp last year. He then put it up early this year and places filled so fast that before long they were full. In total 16 farriers from all over Australia and one from New Zealand were tested. The FITS examiners were Chris Gregory FWCF and Steve Newman FWCF from the UK. We were extremely honored to have two farriers of this caliber to test us .Both of these gentlemen are examiners with the Worshipful Company of Farriers in the UK. The test is structured so as to give full credibility in that all paper work and photos of the candidates work are kept in a file to prove the test was conducted under the strict guide lines. The atmosphere during the test was one of encouragement and comradary between both the candidates and the examiners, every body helped each other and it was great to be a part of. I am of the opinion that this test will address something that we have needed in our country for some time now. Our industry in Australia has become complacent and many unskilled minority groups such as bare foot trimmers have become more prominent to the detriment of the horses. This is the one thing that I think can raise our standards and profile. It is my hope that all the farrier industry in our country sees this for the great thing that it is and get behind it, it is the future path. We have a great country and a great amount of talent in both Australia and New Zealand. Our biggest disadvantage is that we are so far away from the rest of the world and the FITS is one thing that can bring us that little bit closer to every one else. I encourage every one to talk to their associations and get them behind this as it can only be a good thing especially for our young farriers who have just finished trade school to give them something else to aspire to.                                                                                                                      Dean Lewis