Every horse owner knows that once you find a good farrier, you don’t let them go — which can certainly be said of each one shortlisted for the NAF Five Star Profeet Farrier of the Year. The award winner was revealed at the H&H Awards gala dinner at Ascot Racecourse on 2 November.
*WINNER* Jim Balfour
Farriery career: over 30 years
I decided to become a farrier when… I served my apprenticeship with my father, my brother’s in the business and my three sons are all qualified too — it’s a real family thing.
2017 highlight: I’m team manager of the Scottish team and we’re trying to win the world championships at Stoneleigh for the third time.
Top tip for a budding farrier: you get out what you put in — it’s hard work but very good for you.
What the client says… “We trust James impeccably with the ongoing management of our horses’ feet but he also gives a lot back to the equine industry, working with World Horse Welfare and giving demonstrations at agricultural shows. He has been our farrier for 30 years, and has dealt calmly with everything horses can throw at you.” Angus Young
Also shortlisted were:
Farriery career: began in New Zealand aged 16.
I decided to become a farrier when… My family always had horses but I decided at 13 to do farriery. I came to England in 1999 and got my diploma.
2017 highlight: seeing Great Britain win their first medal at the world championships for Icelandic horses [see client comment below].
Top tip for a budding farrier: all these supposed “old guys” you think don’t know as much because they don’t go bragging about it on Facebook etc — we know a lot!
What the client says… “He has been amazing as the farrier for the New Zealand event team and was commended on his shoeing at the World Championships for Icelandic horses, where the vets and farriers doing the trot-up said the Team GB horses’ was the best shoeing they’d seen from 15 countries.” Jemimah Adams
Farriery career: made the decision at the age of 14.
I decided to become a farrier when… I wasn’t horsey, but a friend of mine had the farrier out one day and I thought it looked a cracking trade.
2017 highlight: seeing the horses you shoe going out and doing well in competitions is always a bonus and this year a couple have got their HOYS tickets. To be part of a team like that means a lot.
Top tip for a budding farrier: if you can keep the horses happy, you’ll have happy customers.
What the client says… “Jake is the most knowledgeable farrier I have encountered in the past decade. He always gives 110% and never lets a client down. My horse has the worst feet imaginable and Jake is the only farrier who can get and keep a shoe on him. He is fantastic with horses, but his practice also services zebras at the local zoo!” Melanie Foo
Farriery career: 30 years.
I decided to become a farrier when… I started off in yard work at the age of 18 but my interests took me more towards farriery so I did a four-year apprenticeship and built it from there.
2017 highlight: getting my Fellowship (FWCF) — it’s a lifetime achievement. I’m also co-founder of The Farriers Foundation charity and a total of 48 farriers did a 230-mile bike ride across Wales last month, raising £28,000.
Top tip for a budding farrier: strive to be better every single day and don’t scrimp on your education.
What the client says… “Jon frequently travels abroad to work with other farriers to share his knowledge. He also set up The Farriers Foundation charity which supports farriers and their dependants in times of need.” Tracy Caldwell