Roland’s nags and nails: the trimming penny has dropped

  • There seems to be real momentum in my apprenticeship at the moment. I had been stuck at a point that I couldn’t seem to move on from. Then, all of a sudden, I broke out of the rut I was in and I’m off and running again.

    There was nothing specific that gave me the breakthrough either. I just could do it. Mainly I’m talking about trimming a horse’s feet to be balanced and level. This is without a doubt the hardest part of shoeing a horse. Something literally happened overnight that meant I could trim four feet sufficiently well for shoes to be fitted to them. I wish I knew what it was.

    I clearly remember thinking that I’d “got lucky” with the first decent trim. Then I got lucky again on the next horse. And then again! I went home that night and tried to keep a lid on my excitement — sad I know, but I’ve spent a year trying to get this right. Anyway the next day I started to believe that it wasn’t luck, but I was actually doing it right. The “trimming” penny had somehow dropped!

    Now I can’t work out why I couldn’t do it and why its taken be so long, which is equally annoying as I feel like I’ve just been a bit slow and dim about the whole thing. There is still some room for improvement and Kris Parsons, my training farrier, is helping me refine and master the art so the trim is perfect. I have a feeling that this will take me the rest of my apprenticeship and beyond to achieve.

    Even more exciting now is that Kris has begun to train me in fitting shoes. I am of course back at the beginning of the learning curve again and, although I have had the occasional “go” at fitting shoes before, this past three weeks has been a real step change in my introduction to fitting.

    I do wonder what Kris’ customers must think of me as they watch me shape the shoe, burn myself, drop the shoe off the anvil, etc, etc. There seems to be no end of co-ordination issues as I grapple with this new aspect of farriery. It can’t fill them with confidence!

    But they’ve known me now for nearly two years and I expect they can still remember (as can I) the difficulty I had in removing their horse’s shoes in those first few weeks, and we have come a long way from there.

    Until next week,



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