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One of the last horse shoe program in Canada faces demise

It's a chilly, sunny afternoon at Twin Oaks Farm in south Richmond, B.C., and Jeri Sparshu is putting away his tools while a tall horse named Pedro keeps an eye on him from a stall. Sparshu, 42, has just finished working on Pedro — taking off his horseshoes, trimming his hooves, and putting his horseshoes back on. Horseshoers, formally known as farriers, practice one of the oldest trades in the world.

"Horses have been a part of humanity's conquests and domestication since we started working with them," Sparshu says. "There's evidence of [horseshoeing] being up to 3,000 years old."

Traditionally, farriers learn through apprenticeships. At the Cloverdale campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, they can kickstart their career at one of Canada's two accredited certificate programs. But Kwantlen says it's cutting off registration for the farrier program because of declining enrolment. The school has graduated 50 people in the last five years, and is reviewing its long-term viability as part of the school's budgeting process.

"We're not taking anybody new until we have an opportunity to see how we can do this and what we can do for the future," said KPU provost Sal Ferreras.

Farriers like Sparshu say they're worried about the program getting cut. Sparshu didn't attend Kwantlen but knows a lot of farriers in the Lower Mainland who did. The Lower Mainland has one of the biggest concentrations of horses in Canada, Sparshu says, and many of the qualified farriers who serve them were trained at Kwantlen. Sparshu says the university's certificate offers important fundamentals like horse anatomy that can't be learned through an apprenticeship. The university's pending decision also comes at a time when farriers are trying to establish their work as a formalized trade in order to ensure horses are being cared for by trained professionals. Cutting the program, farriers say, puts that process at risk. "F or this program to potentially be shut down is is a bit of a shock," Sparshu said.

This story was provided to us by CBC BC (Vancouver)

This article was written by Maryse Zeilder

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