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A shortage of farriers in Angus, south-east Scotland, has caused two frustrated horse owners to take action.

With only five registered farriers in Angus, the Countess of South Esk and her groom, Lisa Calder, often find themselves waiting nearly 12 weeks for their horses to be shod.

As a result, the pair plan to offer a house, forge and vehicle — as well as financial backing — to any farrier prepared to move to Angus for up to a year, to entice one to the area.

“We’re getting desperate and needed to do something — it’s becoming a welfare issue,” said Ms Calder. “The farriers working up here are flat-out and not taking on new clients. They don’t even have time to help us in an emergency, however much they wish they could.”

Planning applications have already been submitted to convert a building on the countess’s estate in Brechin into a forge. As soon as permission is agreed, the pair hope to start advertising for a new farrier — ideally by April.

Their plans come on the back of news that the Shetland Isles are also struggling without a farrier (news, 31 January). According to reports last week in the Shetland Times, two farriers from the Lake District are visiting the islands to shoe ponies desperately in need.

Helene Mauchlen, development officer for British Horse Society (BHS) Scotland, said the shortage of farriers in some areas does “come up from time to time” in welfare meetings.

While there are no clear details on the distribution of Scotland’s estimated 100,000 horses and ponies, she said about 30,000-40,000 are believed to be in the Highlands and Islands.

A spokesman for the Farriers Registration Council (FRC) told H&H that it cannot control where farriers set up their businesses.

She said: “Sometimes we suggest that groups of horse owners advertise nationally to attract a farrier — but we do not get involved with the details.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (14 February, ’08)