NAME: Alex taylor
JOB TITLE: Farrier
How long have you been a farrier? 2 years qualified
What made you decide to go into farriery?
I used to live opposite a farrier as a kid. I used to go down and watch him in the forge. I always had an interest in horses that none of my family had.
What qualifications did you need?
To start the apprenticeship course you need 5 GCSEs A-C or equivalent, and pass a forging certificate which is basically metal work. The apprenticeship is nearly 5 years long – mostly work based, and then some college blocks doing NVQ studies. The apprenticeship gives you an NVQ qualification. From there, you can do a diploma in the worshipful company of farriers – a 2 hour written exam, 2 hour practical and ½ hour oral examined by 2 farriers and a vet. You have to have this to practice as a farrier in this country.
Where did you study?
Moreton Morrell College
How long was the course and how difficult would you say it was?
There is quite a lot of science involved but its limited to the body – anatomy and physiology and you don’t need to be hugely academic. It’s good to be practical too.
What were your next steps after your qualification?
I set up self employed and started doing freelance day work for local farriers, then picking up my own clients through word of mouth and Facebook .
Now you are a qualified farrier…
Describe a typical day
Cup of tea first ! Then, ensure the van is adequately stocked up with nails, shoes, gas, and make sure the tools are sharp. I check the diary to see where I’m going. My day starts at around 8am with the first customers. On my own I average 7 or 8 horses a day, if I’m keen and the horses are all located on one yard you can be more efficient and get up to 10 or 11 done.
What are the best parts of the job?
Its very satisfying transforming tired looking feet into neat feet! I enjoy making them look smart and take pride in that. It’s great making a difference to a horse that has come in lame or not quite right and you can fix them –that’s a great feeling.
What are the worst parts?
Mud and rain! And being blamed for being late all the time, when customers are also late too!!
What are the hazards of the job?
Bites! People feed their horses tidbits and then when I’m shoeing they nibble on your back. I don’t get kicked too often, though.
Would you recommend this as a career?
I thoroughly enjoy it, although its hard work and does take its toll on your body. As an apprentice, I used to do lots of competitions and it became as much a hobby and a passion as anything else.
What qualities do you think someone needs to have to do this job?
A short person – you don’t want to be too tall – bending down all day! Also someone who loves horses – if you don’t love them it’s not ideal!
Can women do it?
Yes! There are some excellent lady farriers out there, they are particularly good at the competitive side of the job winning prizes for their work. It is a male dominated industry though, mainly because it is physically hard work.
Will this job make you rich?
If you have a good business mind, it will give you a comfortable living.
Will this job make you happy?
Yes – I really enjoy it anyway!
Best piece of advise to someone considering farriery as a career?
Do your stretches to make your body last longer.