Have I ever mentioned just how long the farriery apprenticeship is?   Sometimes, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but at other times, it seems a never-ending journey.  To acquire the skills to be good enough to shoe horses takes a great deal of patience and practice.  I still feel a long way off being good enough to shoe horses and that is when the tunnel is at its darkest.

The whole 4 years of training comes down to one big set of exams, which includes a 2½ hour written paper, an oral with a vet, an oral with a farrier and then a 2½ hour practical exam.

This weekend, I attended a ‘recreation’ of the exams I will have to take – a gruelling series of mock exams.  Although I won’t be sitting my exams until November 2014, I felt it would be a useful exercise to get the experience.  The other candidates there were taking their exams this November, so they only have a few months until the big day.  Speaking with many of them, I learnt a bit about how I would be feeling 2 months away from my finals.

Everyone had differing strengths and weaknesses.  Many feared the oral with the vet, which includes reading X-rays and discussing diseases and foot conditions.  Just as many feared the practical exam, whilst others were dreading the theory paper exam.  Basically, everyone was feeling the pressure.

At no point did I reveal to the examiners that I was still 18 months away from taking my exams for real, so the feedback I received was with the prospect of me taking those exams in 2 months time.  My theory paper was a comfortable pass, and so was my oral with the vet. The oral I had with the farrier was a bit of a disaster, as he found lots of gaps in my knowledge, including ringbone and other osteoarthritis conditions. My practical exam was a marginal pass.

All in all, I was very pleased with what I achieved.  I was given some very clear guidance on how to convert an overall marginal pass to a comfortable pass and there is nothing more valuable than feedback such as that. Perhaps then, there is a pin prick of light at the end of my tunnel now?

Until next week

Roland

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