Roland’s nags and nails: practising shoe-making

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

    It’s been a very, very hard week for me. I’ve been in the forge practising shoe-making and trying to produce shoes to a reasonable standard without much success.

    From my employer’s point of view, I’m not at all useful to him when learning how to make shoes and that is one of the downsides of taking on an apprentice.

    As you would expect, Kris Parsons, my employer has to put time aside to teach me to become a farrier, while keeping the business going.

    For the first two years of my apprenticeship I will probably be a drain on the business and its resources. Not only will I burn through tons and tons of coke and use up tons and tons of steel in perfecting the art of making shoes, I am also unable to undertake any fee earning works either.

    However, I can support Kris and hope to make him faster but, as new elements are introduced to me, I’ll slow him down again.

    Even when I’m able to undertake paid work for him, I will still be under his direction and, as I have seen with Alex, his fourth year apprentice, Kris will spend a lot of time honing and mentoring me.

    For my part, It’s important that I take the training seriously and put in as much effort as possible to make the most of the training I receive. That includes the book work as well as the practical side.

    So when Kris put aside a whole week for me to improve my shoe making, I made sure I took advantage of the time in the forge. That said, I felt pretty disappointed with my progress and did not get the breakthrough I so badly wanted.

    It’s funny how progress often stagnates for a while, however hard you try. I do know, though, that a week at the anvil will have done me a huge amount of good although I set-fire to Kris’s tool box, broke two stamps and one pritchel, was constantly peppered with hot scale across my hands, as well as losing my temper on a number of occasions.

    It’s all “part of the journey” (so they say) and the burns will be a reminder of my recent struggle. There’s no gain without pain (sadly!)

    Until next week,



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