Horseshoes Aren’t Enough Luck In California.

Allow us to introduce you to Bob Smith.

Smith is a world renowned farrier – a guy who makes horseshoes and puts them on the feet of horses. Like many things, being a farrier is more a craft than an industry. One size horseshoe does not fit all horses. You have to know metallurgy, horse anatomy, types of different shoes, forging and how to handle horses.

Like many craftsman, Smith wanted to pass on what he had learned being a farrier. He wanted to teach new generations of farriers. In 1991, Smith founded the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School in Plymouth, California. The school has an excellent reputation and has won awards for its excellence in training people who want to become a farrier.

One such person who wanted to be a farrier is Esteban Narez. Narez is a ranch hand who has been working odd jobs and who wanted to turn his love for horses and their care into a profession. It’s a perfect fit when you think about it. Narez wants to learn to gain more economic freedom in his life by making more money in a profession. Smith wants to teach him how to achieve his goals.

It is a match made in horse heaven.

Unfortunately Smith and Narez are not in horse heaven. They are in the hell of California and California says the Smith cannot accept Narez into his school.

Earlier this year, Bob Smith, owner of the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School, opened his mailbox to find a notice from the state of California threatening to shut him down. The notice said that Bob was violating state law by admitting students to his horseshoeing school who hadn’t first graduated from high school or passed an equivalent government-approved exam.

A few months later, Esteban Narez, a ranch hand working odd jobs, applied to attend PCHS’s eight-week course. He’d heard from other PCHS graduates that shoeing horses was a great way to turn his love of working with horses into a stable profession that would help him better support himself and his family.

But because Esteban hasn’t graduated from high school, Bob was forced to deny his application.

Under California law, a private “for pay” school cannot accept a student who does not have a high school diploma, a GED, or has not passed an “ability-to-benefit” test that meets Federal requirements. The test has nothing to do with what Smith is going to teach, but it is still a requirement.

Federal regulations require the “ability-to-benefit” test if Federal funds are being used to support a school or help the student. California makes no distinction in where the money is coming from, it only seeks to regulate the school.

In this case, Smith receives no money from the State and Narez has saved up his own money to come to the school.

In addition, the tests have to be bought from vendors (they are not cheap,) and the costs would have to either be absorbed by the school or passed onto the student.

The question is therefore “what benefit is there to forcing people to meet requirements before attending a vocational school?”

“What compelling interest does the State of California have in regulating a contract between two parties?”

The answer is “none.”

In fact, there is real harm being done to Narez and people like him. Instead of being able to get out of low paying random jobs working lots of hours, being a farrier would give Narez a better income and the ability to go back and get his GED.

Someone may argue that there are schools that are out there that would take the student’s money and make all sorts of promises and to be honest with you, there is some validity in that concern. It is wrong, however, to lump all schools together. In this case, the students are monitored by instructors and after the first week of academic study and forging and dealing with horses, if the instructors don’t think the student will be successful as a farrier, Smith hands them back their $250 deposit, shakes their hand, and sends them on their way.

No harm. No foul.

The regulations themselves make no sense, but there is another issue at hand.

Bob Smith is a expert in the field of being a farrier. Why can the state effectively muzzle him and prevent him from passing on his information and skills to others?

In short, “why can the State of California tell Smith to shut up as a teacher and tell Narez that he cannot listen to what Smith is saying?”

This is case is not only about the ridiculousness of the regulations, but a violation of the First Amendment.

Our friends at the Institute for Justice have taken on this case and are suing the State of California. The complaint is below:

Just like publishing a how-to book or uploading an instructional video to YouTube is protected by the First Amendment, so is teaching,” said Keith Diggs, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, which represents Bob and Esteban. “By limiting who Bob is allowed to teach and what Esteban is allowed to learn, California has not only harmed the students most in need of an education, but also violated their First Amendment rights.”

The California law effectively keeps lower and undereducated people in a educational and economic morass from which they cannot escape. Not everyone can go to college or even should go to college. Often vocational and craftsman skills are a way to give economic freedom to people as well as performing a service to the community.

America is the land of opportunity and freedom. The fact that the State of California is spitting on and blocking such opportunity and freedom is expected, but should be stopped.

2 Responses to “Horseshoes Aren’t Enough Luck In California.”

  1. PatS says:

    Who can believe this is the same state whose former governor ran successfully for president who staged boldly “government is not the solution, it’s the problem”.
    Unfortunately communist control California and oppression under mandates will be ever growing.
    As with all communist governments the only way to stop it will be economic ruin of all.

    • AAfterwit says:


      Who can believe this is the same state whose former governor ran successfully for president who staged boldly “government is not the solution, it’s the problem”.

      This is the same state that after the former governor you mentioned, elected Jerry Brown as governor not once, not twice, but four times.

      So yeah, we can believe it.