Roland’s nags and nails: learning from your mistakes

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

    The farriery apprenticeship is full of advice and forewarning and last week, one of the prophesies made to all apprentice farriers came true for me — “at some point you will cut a foot!”

    I was trimming the frog of a big hunter and went a bit deep. The cut was not very bad, but there was a lot of blood and it happened right in front of the lady owner. I felt terrible. In fact, I think I felt worst out of everyone there. The horse didn’t feel it and didn’t even notice; the lady owner remarked that this was a necessary part of my training and that I shouldn’t feel bad about it; and Kris, my training farrier, said “I told you so”!

    Actually, he had been commenting on my frog trims the previous day, saying that I was taking the frog down a bit too much and that I was going to run into trouble. He was right! Anyway, I have taken heed, but the prophesies are against me as allegedly, it won’t be the last time I make a foot bleed.

    I am now spending more time under a horse as I get to grips with trimming the hoof wall. Each additional duty means I am bent over for longer and, of course, it’s 10 times harder and takes 20 times longer when you are learning.

    I am also starting to injure myself again, having been injury free for a while. I am using tools that I haven’t used before and, while Kris makes it look easy, I make it look extremely difficult. Added to which, it seems to have got very hot and I am dripping with sweat when I finally extract myself from under said horse. I never thought I would say this, but roll-on the winter!

    Alex, Kris’s fourth year apprentice, is still awaiting to hear how he got on in his final exams. We should hear next week. In the meantime he is keeping his head down and not saying much, but we know he’s a good a farrier and should pass. I spent the day shoeing with him on Friday and the picture (top right) is of an eventer he shod. If he shod his diploma horse as well as he shod this horse, then he would pass with a Distinction.

    Until next week,



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