Roland’s nags and nails: reflecting on the year gone by

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

    This will be my final blog of the year. We close down for a well earned break over Christmas and will not be back at work until 5 January. I’ll blog again then.

    This blog therefore marks my official 1 year milestone. It feels like I’ve come a long way…

    I’ve lost about 2 stone in weight and can now eat what I like when I like. One of the major perks of a physical job!

    I’ve learned many hard lessons in horse handling. The barn that was partially pulled down by a skittish horse in now operational once again (I no longer tie-up horses there!)

    I was slapped so hard on the backside by a lady customer that I could still feel it 2 hours later. She was making a point about horse handling and it’s a lesson I’ll never forget!

    My legs would tremble with fatigue when taking shoes off. We called them disco legs and , in those early days, Kris and Alex would sing “Night Fever” as I desperately tried to remove a shoe before my legs gave way.

    I have never drunk so much tea and coffee before. It’s a lovely part of being a farrier.

    Devon and Somerset hospitality extends well beyond tea and coffee though to homemade cake, biscuits, muffins and bacon sandwiches. What more could one ask for…?!

    I’ve learned a great deal about shoeing, trimming, conformation, gait and corrective farriery methods. I know all of the bones in the legs and have some background knowledge of the ligaments and tendons. I also have a beginners understanding of the anti-concussive structures and other components within the hoof capsule and can recognise basic ailments and abnormalities of the foot.

    My hands are tough as old boots now (as my wife would testify!). They’ve had one heck of a time adjusting to this new life. I’ve continuously rasped them, cut them, scraped them and hit them. They’re not easy to get clean and you’d never know by looking at them that I was once an office worker.

    I can make a basic shoe that is now good enough to be nailed-on and not thrown in the bin (this is a very recent achievement).

    I started with just simple duties and month-by-month additional farriery tasks have been added. I’m now trimming regularly, but have yet to fit a shoe.

    I have nailed on one shoe, which was immediately removed (nails were too low and the shoe wasn’t on straight). I expect nailing on will be an additional duty to master in the coming year. Fingers beware!

    I’ve been back to school and passed my exams, made things that I never thought I could and faced my fear of drawing – I can now draw a horse’s hoof!

    And just to make life a little tougher, my wife gave birth to a son, who keeps his parents up all hours! He’s now 5 months old and I wonder if he thinks his old man smells? It’s just horse wee, pooh, hoof and sweat after all . . . so why would he?!

    Above all, the biggest and best part of becoming an apprentice farrier is the lifestyle change. Everything about this profession is so different from my old life as a businessman. I won’t try and explain it, but I feel it’s much more worthwhile and wholesome being a farrier.

    I look forward to next year and what lies ahead. It will be tough I know, but very rewarding.

    Have a good Christmas and New Year to you all and I’ll be back in early January 2012.



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