Roland’s nags and nails: aching muscles soothed by tea and biscuits

  • I’ve recently noticed that I have a constant background ache. It’s subtle enough that it’s not obvious and it’s not unpleasant either but, even as I write this, I can feel my wrists, shoulders, legs and back reminding me that it’s been a physically tough week.

    I’ve now completed five weeks as an apprentice farrier working for Kris Parsons (pictured) and it just gets better and better. I’m loving the physical side, but also the technical aspect is starting to flow a bit more as I’m beginning to feel more comfortable under the horses. Usually a quick chat with the intended horse is sufficient to get a feel for its personality — nice and quiet or sharp and nervy.

    Having said that, Kris won’t put me under anything that might have issues so, at worst, I’m only ever dealing with micky-takers, impatient fidgets, curious nibblers and stiff old cranky ones. This week a curious nibbler, who I swear must have just eaten a whole packet of Bertie Bassets Liquorice All Sorts, couldn’t resist breathing heavily in my ear as I clenched his front feet up. I’m not a fan of liquorice, but the horse insisted on sharing his breath with me until I finished. I think that’s the quickest clenching-up job I have done to date!

    Most of the time, if a horse or pony is comfortable, then it will stand quietly for you. Have them in an awkward position and they will tend to shift their weight and jiggle about. As Kris often tells me, it’s not about whether I’m comfortable that matters, it’s whether the horse is comfortable. He often adds that no one can get lower than him and, as you can see from the picture, he is probably right!

    Finally, I’ve been amazed in my five weeks of farriering, how much tea, coffee and biscuits we are offered. It is always hugely appreciated and is just another aspect of the job that is so rewarding. I’ve heard rumours of bacon sandwiches too and I’ll definitely report back if I should get so lucky!

    Until next week…



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