Christopher Wiggins DWCF is a farrier based in Leeds, near Maidstone. He travels all over Kent shoeing a variety of equines, from hacks to competition horses
What made you decide to become a farrier?
Farriery was something that always fascinated me, as a child I spent most of my time around horses and regularly competed in the Pony Club. I left school after passing my GCSE’s and secured an apprenticeship with a local farrier, Gary Burton DWCF.
Where did you study and how long is the course?
In total I studied for just over four years. I worked alongside Gary for much of my apprenticeship, but each year I was given time off to attend block release at Hereford College. I spent 21 weeks attending block release (it is now 23 weeks). At the end of each block I was assessed, if you passed you then moved onto the next part of your training. You sit your final exams near the end of the fourth year. These are taken in three sections, a two and a half hour written paper, a practical and an oral exam. If you pass all three sections you gain a Diploma from the Worshipful Company of Farriers.
Did you set up on your own as soon as you passed you farrier exams?
No, I continued working with Gary for another four years. It was only recently that I set up my own business.
What is your average day like and how much do you earn a year?
No two days are ever the same and my annual income depends on how manydays a week I want to work. If I go to a big yard and shoe several horses, I can shoe more than if I travel to a private owner with just one horse. As a rule a farrier will shoe on average 6- 10 horses a day and charges around £45 a set. I normally work a six-day week and am always on call for emergencies . I try and get to my first client for 7am. In the winter I work till about 4.30pm and in the summer I work later, sometimes till 8pm.
What is the best bit about your job?
I enjoy driving and meeting my clients on a regular basis and it is always satisfying when a horse who has had a history of foot and lameness problems finally comes sound.
What is the worst bit?
Definitely the weather!
For more information about becoming a farrier visit www.farrier-reg.gov.uk or contact (tel: 01733 319 770).