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A Day in the Life of a Farrier

Published 15th October 2012


Nigel Brown is a farrier based near Abergavenny, South Wales. He is an Associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers and is an Approved Training Farrier, currently with two apprentices; Robbie (fourth year apprentice) and Lewis (second year apprentice). He shoes a wide range of horses working in a number of disciplines.

"We start our day at 7.30am; the apprentices load the vans for the day and check to make sure we have a good range of shoes in a number of sizes, a good supply of nails and plenty of gas to run the forges! We have detailed sheets on each of our client’s horses which, over time, allow us to build a historical record of shoeing and what was done when and why. These sheets include shoe sizes but also client’s preferences and any points we have noted regarding hoof quality and condition. Our shoeing tools are also checked to ensure knives are sharp and rasps are in a good working condition.

We leave the yard with the aim of being at our first customer around 8am. Sometimes we travel in one van and go together and sometimes we take the two vans – Robbie is now in the fourth year of his apprenticeship and no longer requires constant supervision.

I work in a relatively small area compared with many farriers but we do plan our routes carefully to be more efficient with our time and to make the most of the day. At the majority of yards we know exactly what we are doing before we get there, although this is not always the case! Quite often there is a lost shoe that needs replacing, a set of refits instead of new shoes or a client that has forgotten we are coming and the horse is out in a field miles away! Whilst I always try to keep to appointments as closely as possible it isn’t always possible however, thanks to the invention of the mobile phone, we can always let customers know if we are going to be a bit early or a bit late!

We arrive back at the forge anywhere between 4pm to 7pm dependant on the time of year and the sort of day we have had. The apprentices are both required to complete a certain number of hours in the forge each week to ensure that their forging skills are continually developed. I too, make stock shoes, therapeutic or remedial shoes as required for the next few days and also practise for farriery competitions.

My mobile phone has generally been ringing throughout the day and messages are noted as I receive them. Emergencies are generally called back throughout the day but the booking for regular appointments I tend to do in the evening when I can plan head and organise the diary better. This tends to be the last job of the day with us finishing somewhere between 5pm and 8pm!"