Horse & Hound visited the King's Troop at its Woolwich barracks and took a tour of the forge, to find out just how hefty the shoeing rota is for the farriers
Nothing has been spared at the King’s Troop’s purpose-built facilities at the Woolwich barracks in south-east London, which it moved to in February 2012 from St John’s Wood.
As well as an indoor school, outdoor school, horse walker, canter track, tailors’ workshop, pharmacy — complete with a digital X-ray machine, weighbridge and padded colic boxes — there is the all-important forge.
With 113 horses on King George VI Lines, the unit’s farriers have a hefty shoeing rota on their hands in the army’s largest forge.
Sergeant French, who completed his farrier apprenticeship through the army, shares the facts and figures of the forge.
How many horses are shod a week?
We shoe 60 horses in an average week. Come The Queen’s birthday parade in June we might shoe a 100 a week, just because of the amount of roadwork they’re doing and every horse is out in the team. We shoe the horses in pairs of hooves — so fronts and hinds, occasionally sets — depending on what they need. They very rarely get to overgrow the shoes — they do so much roadwork it’s mainly shoeing for wear.
The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery have been enjoying the sand and surf in Cornwall on a training exercise
How often are they shod?
Depending on the animal, their conformation, and how much work they’re doing, we can do anything from four to five weeks on a pair of fronts, whereas hinds are generally two to three weeks.
What are the main problems that they encounter?
It’s mainly concussion-related problems that we see because of all the roadwork. All we can do is maintain a good, strong, working life with balanced, regular shoeing. To achieve this every horse is checked by a farrier at least once a week.