Code of Ethics for Guild of Professional Farriers Members for Working with
published in ANVIL Magazine, February, 1999
Farriers and veterinarians are independent professionals who deal with
horses’ feet, legs, lameness, gait and stance. Farriers and veterinarians
each have their own unique skills and viewpoints, which are invaluable to
the horse and horseowner. The successful cooperation between farriers and
veterinarians can be a tremendous asset to the horse and horseowner, and
is sometimes essential for the well-being of the horse. The following guidelines
are intended to maximize cooperation for the good of all concerned.
1) DIRECT COMMUNICATIONS: You must provide the best possible access for
direct consultations with veterinarians who work on your customers’ horses.
Give them times and numbers when you are most likely to be able to speak
to them directly. (For example: “You are most likely to reach me from 8-10
PM at my home number, 301-898-6990.”)
a) Consultation: When your work may affect a condition for which the owner
has consulted a veterinarian, then with the owner’s permission
you must try to consult directly with that veterinarian before completing
work on the horse. This is not only courteous, but the veterinarian may have
information that is essential for you to help the horse.
b) Notification: Immediately notify the attending veterinarian of any work
you have done that affects their work, and/or any observations that may affect
their work. (For example: “I understand you recently diagnosed Joe Smith’s
horse with navicular disease and put him on isoxsuprine and bute. I just
put on rocker-toed eggbar shoes and he seems to be moving more
c) Directions: Directions from the veterinarian indirectly through the owner
or other surrogate (directions left verbally or in writing) should be considered
insufficient and unreliable not an acceptable substitute for direct
consultation, particularly because it does not allow for discussion. If the
owner insists that you follow the veterinarian’s directions, then you must
speak directly to the veterinarian before completing your work. Unless you
have been hired by the veterinarian, you work for the customer and not the
2) REFERRAL: For work that is necessary for the horse but outside of your
scope or field, you must either hire someone qualified to do the work or
refer the horseowner to that professional. (For example: if a horse needs
a diagnostic workup for lameness and the horseowner does not already have
an attending veterinarian, you must either hire a veterinarian to do that
or refer the horseowner to a veterinarian.) In most states, only veterinarians
are legally able to diagnose and to prescribe and administer medications.
Guild members are to have a veterinarian present if a diagnosis must be made,
if medications need to be administered, or if there is a reasonable expectation
that bleeding will occur or sensitive tissues invaded.
3) RESPECT: Although you don’t have to agree with the veterinarian, you must
refrain from any second-guessing, criticism or negative comment to the customer
about the attending veterinarian or his work. Just as you are the expert
in your field, he is the expert in his field. Any questions, concerns, or
problems you have with the veterinarian’s work should be discussed privately
and directly with the veterinarian. The Guild member should refrain from
requesting a second opinion or a change of veterinarians, unless there is
apparent gross mistreatment or a lack of cooperation and respect from the
4) RESPONSIBLITY: Farriers are completely responsible for their own actions.
You must do only what you feel is correct and reasonable. Being asked by
an owner or directed by a veterinarian to perform a procedure does not remove
your responsibility, nor limit your liability for your actions.
To work ethically and effectively with veterinarians is to remember these
two principles: treat them as you want them to treat you and you remain
responsible for your own actions.
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Table of Contents for February, 1999.