This blog is sponsored by the PRO FEET range of hoof care products from NAF

The way I see it, my farriery apprenticeship is divided into three parts: on-the-job training, shoemaking and college.

Kris Parsons, my training farrier, is responsible for my on-the-job training and shoemaking. He introduces me to all aspects of shoeing, provides guidance and mentors me through the different stages and phases of everyday farriery. He also provides the training and critique of the shoemaking, as well as giving me time in the forge to master the skill of shoemaking.

For my part, I have to find time after work or at the weekends to practice my shoemaking. It’s a big undertaking for both of us.

The third part is the college part. They are responsible for my theory training and knowledge building. It’s through them that I achieve the farriery qualifications, but only if I have met the standards required to progress through the apprenticeship. I am assessed twice yearly throughout the whole four years. If you include the field officer visits, for which I have to have pieces of work ready and certain shoes made and up to standard, then I’m actually assessed four times a year. There really is no respite.

I have just had my field officer visit. His report now goes to the Farriery Training Association who keep a file on me! There is a very narrow path to tread and any slight deviation from it can result in the termination of my farriery apprenticeship. It’s tougher that I ever imagined it would be. That said, I wouldn’t change what I’m doing. It’s an incredibly rewarding path and with it some lovely moments.

For instance this week, on the day that Kris left me in the forge to practice my shoemaking, the local hunt came right past the forge (see picture above). I’ve no idea what the horses and riders thought as I emerged, blackened and covered in soot, from the forge to see them pass. Perhaps they thought I was a chimney sweep!

Until next week,

Roland

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