Roland’s nags and nails: fitting and nailing on my first shoe

  • This week has been one of those milestone weeks for me. I lost my farrier cherry so to speak. I hot fitted and nailed on a shoe.

    As a young boy, I had watched and marvelled at the skill of hot fitting and nailing on. I would be mesmerised by the farrier as he re-shod my ponies, especially the burning on of the shoe and subsequent nailing. It’s an incredibly skilful craft and it’s why I’m training to be a farrier now.

    Over the past 18 months of watching Kris Parsons, my training farrier, shoe horses and ponies, I wondered when I would be given the chance and how I would feel. Well, out of the blue and quite unexpectedly, as part of my college training course, I was asked to shoe a hind foot of one of their horses.

    I was instantly nervous and didn’t think I’d be able to do it. I knew some of the principals of course, as well as having watched Kris hundreds of times. But it’s one thing to watch and another to actually do! For example, you could watch someone juggle for years and years, but until you actually practice it, you would never be able to do it.

    Well, I did it — see photo for evidence! It may have taken me six trips to the horse to get the shoe the correct shape, but I got it right and nailed on my first made and fitted shoe! I did watch with slight apprehension the horse being led away. Thankfully it was still sound and for me it meant a huge confidence boost. I was grinning from ear to ear and felt a huge sense of accomplishment.

    The college work is really piling on now and there’s a huge amount to learn and understand. Blood supply and tendons are giving the group most trouble at the moment and we have exams looming in 10 days.

    That said, I did manage to honour my promise to my fellow students that I would go ‘clubbing’ with them. I was introduced to Turbo Shandies and a number of other vile drinks. It’s been a while since I’ve “made shapes in the church of dance” and not only did I feel pretty sorry for myself the next day, I also pulled a muscle. I’m definitely too old for it! Time to hang up my spurs and leave those exertions to my fellow students.

    Until next week,



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