Roland’s nags and nails: feeling hot, hot, hot

  • This blog is sponsored by the PRO FEET range of hoof care products from NAF

    I expect many of us have been suffering in this heat, but I don’t think anyone has been suffering as much as us farriers. Wow what a scorcher of a week! Luckily I had Friday off, which was an inspired annual leave booking, so was able to smugly relax in my garden feeling utterly refreshed and enjoy the sun as one should do.

    This week, I’d actually begun to carry a towel in my tool box. After each foot, I’d have to wipe myself down. I’ve said it before, but roll-on winter. I’m sure I’ll regret saying that but, right now, I’m longing for crisp cold days, seeing my breath and wearing thermal base layers. Mmmm, I’m also thinking open fires, red cabbage and red wine. This year I’m actually looking forward to it.

    Certainly the heat doesn’t help my concentration, which is one thing that the farrier job requires all of the time. Any momentary lapse in concentration is immediately followed by a mistake and there are a million ways to make a mistake in this job.

    My employer, Kris, works very fast and I need to anticipate what he might need next and be ready for it. Efficiency is everything and meaningless journeys back to the van or misplacing tools, muddling nails up, mixing up the shoes, not having the next horse ready, running out of gas etc are all things that occur because of a lack of concentration.

    As soon as we arrive at a new yard, it literally is “action stations”. There is no place for dawdlers and the only way to keep on top of the job is to know what your next 2 to 3 tasks will be and keep thinking ahead. It is vital that you listen to what’s happening too. I might not be able to see Kris, but I can hear whether he’s trimming, fitting or nailing-on. Knowing what stage he’s at allows me to stay ahead of him and, even though I might be in a different stable, I can still anticipate what he needs next.

    All this probably sounds a bit trivial, but I get an immense sense of satisfaction when everything goes well. It means that I’m “in the zone” and am completely on top of my work. However, it’s easy to get complacent and it’s definitely all too easy to have a dip in concentration (especially in this heat). The job requires 100% of your attention 100% of the time and you cannot get away with anything less.

    Until next week,



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