Roland’s nags and nails: handling horses and getting a spanking!

  • Well, unless my eyes are deceiving me, it’s definitely getting lighter in the mornings! I’m still starting at an unfamiliarly early time, but not now in the dark. Is it also getting warmer too? Enough said about that in case I inadvertently conjure up a Siberian weather front!

    I have now completed the sixth week of my farriery training and, as I’m still only at the very early stages of my apprenticeship, I’m ticking the time off week by week. I’m not sure at what point I’ll convert to talking about completed months, but that will be a milestone in its self.

    I’ve had another physically hard week carrying out my duties; removing shoes, clenching-up and fetching and carrying while trying to stay ahead of my boss Kris Parsons as he trims, fits and nails on.

    With a yard of horses to shoe, Kris will expect to maintain his work rate and not be brought to a standstill because I’m still wrestling the shoes off the next horse or there are no nails in his box or the shoes aren’t even in the fire yet. There’s a lot to do and think about and it’s really hard keeping pace with Kris.

    I had my first real experience of horse handling this week. A young Arab, who had only been shod once before, needed firm competent handling in order to fit shoes on it. Even though it was in a chiffeny, I still made a hash of keeping it tamed as it ejected Kris from its back end. Kris put me and the horse right and, lo and behold, the horse stood nicely from then on!

    The picture is of me in action in the forge. I’m now at the stage of turning the branches, which essentially means that my twisted bits of metal now look like horse shoes. The next phase in my shoemaking journey will be putting the nail holes in.

    Finally, while going about my duties, I was slapped so hard on the backside, I could still feel the skin tingling an hour later. A lady had watched me pat her horse on its quarters as I went round the back of it. In retribution, and because it is not good practice to pat unknown horses on the rump, she walloped me one.

    I had no idea what had hit me but, when I realised I had been spanked, my first thought was “you couldn’t get away with that in an office”! Despite the pain, it made me smile as I realised how far removed I was from my old life of office correctness and employment law — how refreshing!

    Until next week,



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