21 April 2000


Fancy a career in farriery?

Tamara Farrant looks at the

training and prospects it offers

FIRST the bad news – its tough, physical and smelly work. Yet the pluses of farriery, plenty of work and no danger of being replaced by a machine, make it a fulfiling vocation.

Farriery is one of the few skills still acquired through an apprenticeship, in this case just over four years. Jim Hayter, 28, is currently working his way through the training and paperwork to become an approved training farrier (ATF). He will then join around 300 other ATFs qualified to take on an apprentice.

"As I have plenty of work it would be helpful for me to take on an apprentice but, like other farriers, I have the real worry that I could put six months training into someone and then they drop out because they are not up to the work."

&#42 Bigger and stronger

Jim started at 16, but generally would not recommend anyone starting until 18 when they are that much bigger and stronger. From this point of view the pre-farriery course at Warwickshire College is a huge benefit to everyone in the industry.

As Jim says: "The course benefits apprentices because it gives them a year to find out more about the work, decide whether they really want to make farriery their career, and helps them gradually build up to meet the high physical demands. It is a real help to training farriers because it provides them with apprentices who arent completely clueless. They are committed and already understand many of the basics."

Apprentices come from all walks of life. Jims training group included school leavers, such as himself and men in their 30s looking for a change of career – particularly coming out of the armed forces.

"One difficulty faced by training farriers is that apprentices without a horsey background dont know how to tie up horses, let alone handle them! However, if the necessary skills are being developed, the trainer will see that they make it through the annual exams," he says.

&#42 Plenty for everyone

Jim trained with his cousin, Peter Marley. When he had finished his apprenticeship Jim set up on his own in Burwash, near his fathers patch. Although some commercial jealousies could be expected, it seems there is more than enough work for everyone. It took Jim two years to fill up his round. He is currently helped out by Gareth Keevil who qualified in February.

"It helps to snap up new farriers before they have established their own businesses. Ill just make use of him while I can. It pays to keep on good terms with everyone, not least because if you are off work they might cover for you," says Jim.

The hours are as long as you want them to be. Jim suggests that if you intend to keep working into old age, completing a set an hour and six horses a day is a sensible work rate. Depending on the area of the country, farriers charge £38 to £50 a set. The overheads are tools, £500, an anvil £600, a mobile furnace £700, a van and a forge. Apprentices will need most of the tools from day one.

Contacts: The Farriery Training Service, Telephone (01733 319770), www.horsecareers.co.uk

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