Roland’s nags ‘n’ nails: concentrating on the competitions

There’s no doubt about it, it’s a hairy time of year as summer coats come through. After each shoeing job, Kris my training farrier and I have to brush ourselves off before getting into the van. But it’s a nice problem to have as it marks the onset of summer. And so do the flies… blighters!

I’m back to college soon for the fifth of my eight blocks. There’s quite a bit to do in preparation for it, including making shoes and completing various assignments. Fortunately, I have done quite a lot of the ground work and completed most of the assignments so can now concentrate on the few competitions that I have entered.

The first is Devon County Show in two weeks time. I am entered into the third and fourth year apprentice class and the Eagle Eye class, which I’ve never taken part in before. Each competitor has 30sec to look at (but not touch) a hoof, then 15min to make a shoe for it. The competitor who makes the closest fitting shoe wins.

Competitions are a great way to prepare for the final diploma exams as there’s a great deal of pressure and nerves to manage. Apprentices are encouraged to take part in as many as possible. However, many apprentices decide not to compete, which is surprising as they really are extremely useful to our training. There’s a huge amount one can learn from the qualified farrier competitors, who are only too ready to give advice and encourage us.

Finally, on a serious note, following the recent OFSTED report, which found the Farrier Training Agency “inadequate”, I wanted to make clear that the standard of farriers qualifying is just as high as it has always been. The standards and diploma exam, which every apprentice has to pass to become a farrier, is set by the Worshipful Company of Farriers, not the Farrier Training Agency. Therefore, while the training agency has been called into question, the standards have not. The UK continues to produce the best farriers in the world and there is no doubt about that.

Until next week,



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