Roland’s nags and nails: three-day working weeks

  • The joys of a three-day working week! On Easter Monday I spent a hugely enjoyable day in the sunshine at Badminton then, of course, Friday was the Royal Wedding. I could definitely get used to this.

    I’m entered into my first shoemaking competition in three weeks at Devon County Show, (19–21 May) and I’ve yet to start clipping shoes (toe clip or side clips). I’ve seen it done and it looks easy, but so does shoe-making generally, so I know it’s actually really difficult.

    It’s been hard to get much practice as Kris, my training farrier, was away for a week recently so we’ve been working through a busy shoeing schedule to clear the backlog. Anyway, I decided to put in some hours over the long weekend and, lo and behold, I was appalling. I did improve with repetition, but it just goes to show that even a few weeks away from the forge has set me back quite a bit.

    Even though we only had three working days this week, I still managed to get under plenty of horses and each evening I returned home exhausted. As my duties increase I’m spending more time under a horse and I am nowhere near fit enough. Taking shoes off and clenching up are about 15% of the work tasks. Trimming frogs and soles are possibly another 15%. Fitting and nailing on, as well as the full foot preparation, would see me under a horse for the full duration. Kris not only gets under many more horses than I do each day, but he’s also doing more when he’s under each one.

    Finally, this week we spent time at an Arab stud and Flat Racing stud. Because these horses are a bit of a handful, to say the least, there’s no way I’d last more than 30sec under them, so I was only able to watch. I did have my camera with me, so I set about trying to get a photo of Kris being ejected from underneath one of these wild animals. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get the shot I was after. Each time one of these animals reared, kicked out or bucked, Kris, who was underneath, stepped cooly away while I legged it! Perhaps I should give the camera to Kris in future…

    Until next week



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