Roland’s nags and nails: enjoying the sleep of the just

  • I’ve made it through my second week as an apprentice farrier, but more by luck than judgement. How do horses always seem to know who the apprentice is?!

    While taking the front shoes off a 18hh hunter, I was sent flying into the bank of woodchip at the back of his stable. Nothing dented but my pride and confidence — I am firmly under the impression that the said hunter was laughing as I brushed myself off and returned to the task in hand!

    I was also sent scurrying from underneath an Arab as, out of the blue he leapt out of my inexperienced clutches, missed my foot by millimetres and scattered my tools everywhere… or maybe I scattered them when I dived for cover!? Most likely the latter.

    My education continues at a rapid pace. Now when I take shoes off, I am asked to report on the condition of the feet, what kind of wear the shoes have had and how that might affect the way the horse is shod. I’m on the look out for sheared heels, thrush and other ailments.

    My clenching-up continues to be a bit hit and miss; sometimes good, other times rubbish. My boss Kris Parsons (pictured working with a head torch) is always quick to tell me when I’ve done a good job, but also not shy about telling me when I haven’t.

    There is no pressure yet for me to speed up, but I need to develop an efficiency and fluidity in my duties. I confess there is still much panting and grunting as my unfit body copes with the unfamiliar stress positions of working under a horse. I am not yet adapted to this form of work and, given I’m still enjoying the novelty of not having to shave everyday, I am reminded that I’m still really a corporate softie.

    I am looking forward to next week and for the second week running I am not suffering from the ‘sunday blues’. I begin shoemaking in the forge this week, having completed the forging of a stamp and pritchel last week. Forge time is set aside each week and I will begin my education in shoemaking by learning how to forge heels and toe bends.

    I’m regularly getting home after 7.30pm and boy am I tired. I can honestly say that I have never slept so well in all my life! Kris calls it ‘the sleep of the just’. Nothing better than a hard day’s work with horses and steel to help you sleep with a clear conscience. Which brings me to my final point — I need to get to bed earlier.

    Til next week



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