Roland’s nags and nails: health and safety or red tape madness

  • The Farrier apprenticeship is structured carefully around work-based learning and college-based learning, both of which are overseen by the National Farrier Training Agency (NFTA).

    Because there are such long stints between the college attendances — we only go to college for 26 weeks throughout the entire four-year apprenticeship — NFTA field officers come and visit us at our workplace to make sure all is well.

    That includes checking that we are being paid properly, have been given the correct holiday entitlement and all the myriad of health and safety laws are being abided by.

    Fortunately, many of the health and safety laws that seem to govern every corner of our lives cannot be implemented in the world of farriery as it’s difficult to legislate for working underneath horses — particularly the wilder ones.

    We do, of course, follow as much health and safety protocol as possible but there are some ridiculous suggestions in the pipeline.

    One such idea is that we should rope a cordon around our working area when showing a horse and put a sign up saying “Danger, horses being shod”.

    This is a health and safety measure being discussed in Europe and a representative of the health and safety legislature from Germany actually came across to the UK and gave my college class a talk on this.

    Apparently we should also wear gloves and safety glasses when taking shoes off and when clenching up too. One thing that does occur to me is how the glasses and gloves will help me when a small gust of wind blows the “danger” sign over, spooking the horse, which then tramples me on its way to getting caught up in the cordon. Please let common sense prevail.

    Judging by the genuine enthusiasm emanating from this German H&S specialist when discussing these measures (he really was enjoying himself), I do not hold out much hope.

    Until next week,



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