Our son, Dylan decided, at around the age of 13, that he wanted to shoe horses for a living. The craft is called farriery and he has qualified this year as a farrier. It’s no easy task because Britain insists that every farrier is trained to a very high standard, which takes nearly 4 years. In fact he began learning right away at 13 by working in a local stables. He did learn to ride but that was never his interest. We learned to use a forge by spending a day or two with a blacksmith and we acquired a forge of our own. Dylan took a day out of school every week for his last 2 years in education to do a horse care course at Myerscough College, which is dedicated to rural pursuits, and returned to the college to achieve a forging certificate once he’d left school, to ensure he was able to cope with working with a device hot enough to melt steel. He then had to secure one of around 100 apprenticeships which would be available in the country each year and this lead to him leaving home, then just 17 years old, to train almost 300 miles away on the south coast of England. Nearly 4 years later he was one of the 10 out of 15 from hus college who met the required standards at the first attempt so now only had the task of establishing a business.
He believed that he would find work in Northern Scotland, specifically in Aberdeenshire, so as soon as he was told that he’d passed he set off to go 370 miles north from home in Lancashire. Fortunately I have a brother who is a geologist and lives in the area so Dylan stayed with him until he found a chalet to rent a few miles away. He’s finding plenty of business because horse ownership is popular in the vast rural expenses of the county and so we changed our holiday plans in order to visit. We travelled up in 3 stages, staying in Northumberland then Southern Scotland, near Edinburgh before driving north again. This has meant an unaccustomedly long period without mountain biking, for me.
He’s all grown up now and can function perfectly well without us, though without us he would never have got so far. He’s used to independent living and is far more gregarious than we ever knew. He already has a life up there. It’s a beautiful area though the winters are dark and long so he may get a shock in a few months time.
Many horses only need the hooves to be trimmed but if shoes are to be fitted it’s more complex. First you lever the old shoes off, then trim the hoof, which grows like a finger nail and pushes the shoe away from the foot. Then each shoe has to be heated until it glows red and is hammered into the exact shape for the prepared hoof. Then it’s nailed on. 6 weeks later the hoof has grown enough to mean that the process has to be repeated.
I was surprised how easily the nails went in. They are then “clenched”, which involves bending so they won’t be pulled out by the shoe. Everything is filed and polished to make it look good. The horse here has a problem with lameness in her front left leg, caused by rubbing tendons. By using a thick shoe with an angle it’s hoped that some relief can be given. She is currently in foal but is unlikely to be able to return to show jumping subsequently.
Dylan has his own life which even includes a puppy, Vinnie. He’s all grown up.
As a horse owner myself (I’ve got 4 plus a donkey!), finding a talented, educated, and caring farrier is very tough where I live. When lived, previously, on the west coast of the U.S., there were many more horse people, like me, and finding a good farrier wasn’t as hard to do as the demand was high for such services. But, here in the Midwest, despite the agricultural industry here (crops, cattle, and hogs), finding a farrier, let alone a good one — it is extremely difficult. I was, indeed, spoiled on the west coast, enjoying the services of the same farrier for almost 10 years! I’ve been in this new area (in the Midwest) for 3.5 years and am on my 3rd farrier (for one reason or another)! I would like to commend your son for choosing a field in farriery — it takes a tremendous of skill and patience (not to mention it it very hard work physically on the body). Most American young people seem to be more concerned with and aspiring to get jobs at Apple, Microsoft, the like, etc. Farriers, I’d argue, have more income potential, though, it’s just that I think many people are, sadly, afraid of horses and not as motivated about doing hard, physical work. Good for Dylan and many congrats to him!!! All the best, ~ Chelle P.S. Tell Dylan to check out this great web site for farriers and horse people: https://www.hoofprints.com
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Thanks Chelle. I’ve sent your comment to Dylan. He loves donkies! He has invited us to a heavy horse show in October but an 800 mile round trip is a long way to go so we haven’t decided yet. Andrew.
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Thanks so much, Andrew! Yes, 800 miles is a long distance! When you mentioned the show being for heavy horses — does that mean the same as a horse show exclusively for draft breeds of horses (e.g., Clydesdale, Staffordshire, etc)? Have a great weekend!
Hi, it’s the World Clydesdale Show, Aberdeen. Dylan has already shoed a Clydesdale horse.
Well done Dylan and congratulations to you as parents, sounds like he’s a credit to you 👍🙂
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