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The Government has cut funding for farriery apprenticeships, in the wake of an “inadequate” Ofsted report.

New apprentices will be expected to pay £12,000 towards the cost of the four-year training scheme, which was previously free.

Mandy Burroughes’ son Matthew secured an apprenticeship following completion of a pre-forging course at Myerscough College, Lancs, only to find funding has been discontinued.

“This is going to make farriers even more expensive, as only a select few can afford the training,” Ms Burroughes told H&H.

However, many farriers believe it could be a positive step. Suffolk farrier Robert Shave said that, while the cuts may reduce numbers, standards should improve.

“In most other forms of education, students have to find the money,” he said.

“We’ll get people going in who really want it. There are currently too many farriers struggling for work.”

“Apprentices will have to pay £60 a week over the four years, but they’re on a starting wage of £128.

“There aren’t many forms of education where you get it that good,” he added.

Lancashire farrier Craig D’Arcy, an elected member of the Farriers Registration Council, told H&H that the Ofsted report “highlighted that the current training system needed a shake-up in order to stay relevant”.

And while government funding is no longer available, there will be other avenues, said Mr D’Arcy.

“Industry partners are looking at new ideas to help future apprentices fund their training, which could include government loans,” he said.

The National Farrier Training Agency (NFTA) was already in the process of reviewing its apprenticeship scheme prior to the report.

“This will continue to move forward,” said NFTA operations manager Neville Higgins. “Whether funding would be secured on this is for the Skills Funding Agency to determine.”

In past two years, 185 apprentices have enrolled, 179 of whom are funded by the Government — and will continue to be so.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (23 May 2013)