Doug Russo
Vet Med Farrier Earns New Certification

In October, the United Kingdom-based Worshipful Company of Farriers held the examination for Associate-level certification in Lexington, Ky. Among the two passing the certifying examination was Doug Russo, journeyman farrier at the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center.

Russo is only one of two farriers employed at the U.S. veterinary colleges who has earned the certification of Associate from the Worshipful Company of Farriers (WCF). There are only 18 others in the United States who also hold that title.

In the United States, says Russo, the (highest) credential is certified journeyman which is equivalent to the WCF’s Diploma status. Associate status is the next higher level at the WCF. The exam tests a wide range of therapeutic shoe-forging skills and the farrier’s ability in remedial or consultancy shoeing.

“We are so proud of Doug for this accomplishment,” said Dr. Stephanie Caston, equine surgeon at the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center. “The WCF is regarded as having the highest standards in farrier examinations; the rigorous and comprehensive testing is quite a challenge. Completion of this certification is an important achievement. To have such a dedicated and knowledgeable farrier on staff at Iowa State is a vital resource and a huge benefit to clients, veterinary students, farrier students, and all of the equine clinicians.”

Russo wasn’t planning to take the certifying exam this year, but a fellow farrier was injured in an accident and offered his exam spot to Russo. With two months to prepare, he wasn’t sure he’d be ready.  

“Working at the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center helped me prepare,” Russo said. “A lot of the examination tests a farrier’s ability to read radiographs and ultrasounds, and identify pathologies. It also assesses your knowledge of anatomy, and conditions and diseases of the equine leg and foot; as well as the farrier’s ability to use modern materials in shoemaking.”

“The exam also involves testing the farrier’s ability to assess a case that he or she has never experienced and working with veterinary surgeon,” Russo said. “That’s where working with Drs. Stephanie Caston and Kevin Kersh (equine surgeons at Iowa State) truly helped me prepare and review for the exam.”

“Drs. Caston and Kersh always made themselves available to me while I studied, their help along with the support of college helped me achieve this goal,” Russo said. “I’m fortunate to work with this team!”

“It was a very stressful two months of prep for the Associate exam, but the process forces you to become a better farrier through the review and practice that you do to prep for it.”

The United Kingdom is the only country to require a license to be a farrier, says Russo, and the long history of farriers in the UK dates back to the early 1300s.

Now that Russo has earned the Associate level, he plans to take the examination for Fellowship in another year. The Fellowship recognizes the highest level of ability. There are only six farriers in the United States who are Fellows.

Russo traveled to London, England, in January for the WCF ceremony where he received his Associate certificate.