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Have I ever mentioned just how hard becoming a farrier is? Next time you see your farrier, ask him (or her) about their apprenticeship.

Anyway, I’ve just returned from the Shire Horse Show in Peterborough where I nervously took part in the third and fourth year apprentice shoemaking competition. Apart from it being terrific fun to take part in, it’s also a way of benchmarking yourself against fellow students and getting experience in making shoes under pressure which is, of course, good practice for our final exams.

I was really pleased and surprised at just how well I did. It was also great to catch up with a few guys who are at the same stage as me and over the ensuing beers I learnt that I’m not the only one finding it tough.

It’s really easy to assume that everyone else is progressing faster and finding it easier than you are when you’re tucked away in your own world. Having the chance to meet up with fellow students is a great way of checking your own skills and capabilities.

I have definitely been suffering from a lack of confidence recently and it has shown up in my work. This weekend has been a welcome “shot in the arm” and with a few good things that happened at work last week I am feeling much more positive about the challenges ahead.

Never in a million years did I expect to find the apprenticeship so difficult. Lots of people told me it would be, but I never really believed them. Well, now I do believe them and for anyone thinking of becoming a farrier, be prepared for one hell of a journey.

For those of you who use a farrier, ask them about their apprenticeship. I know they make shoeing look easy, but it wasn’t always easy for them. It takes a huge amount of dedication, patience and mental strength to qualify and, of course, immense skill too. Perhaps make them an extra cup of tea in acknowledgement!

Until next week,

Roland

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