H&H finds out what a survey of farriers’ on-the-job injuries revealed, and what is being done to keep equine professionals safer while at work
The British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association (BFBA) conducted the survey, which was completed by 349 farriers and apprentices.
The results showed 76% of participants reported a minimum of one injury requiring hospital treatment during their career and 32% had visited a hospital three or more times. Fractures accounted for 42% of injuries, and 56% were from a hindlimb kick. When asked to consider the most serious injury sustained 60% cited equine behaviour for the cause.
BFBA president Craig D’Arcy AWCF said the results are “concerning but not surprising”.
“Everybody realises from the very nature of the industry, it’s never going to be a job that’s without risk,” he told H&H.
“We felt we needed to look at what the assumptions were and if they were correct that farriers are getting injured on a fairly frequent basis, and whether the risk could be preventable or minimised.”
Mr D’Arcy said over time, behaviour patterns in some horses have changed for reasons such as reduced workload, or a lack of preparing young horses for being seen by the farrier.
“As a side effect, some think that’s a normal behaviour pattern for that horse. The unfortunate thing is as professionals – be it the farrier, vet or physio – we’ve got to deal with that behaviour. People don’t want their horses told off, but as farriers we want to do the job and be in one piece when we finish and I don’t think that’s unreasonable,” he said.
Farrier Mark Aikens DipWCF lost a finger when it became trapped under a horse’s hoof.
“Having sustained a career-threatening injury has made me prioritise safety at each appointment I attend; the horse’s wellbeing and an optimal shoeing/trimming for that horse is my priority,” he said.
“Communication between farrier and client is vital in reducing injury to the horse, handler and farrier and I strongly advocate that all parties are in agreement to achieve this with the horse’s welfare being the prime concern.”
BFBA plans to launch a campaign aimed at highlighting the risks faced by farriers.
“We’re looking at it as a multifaceted issue; it’s owner education, and also something as an industry we need to look at in how we train future farriers to look at risk management and talk to owners,” said Mr D’Arcy.
A spokesman for the Farriers Registration Council said the organisation had discussed the survey findings with BFBA and welcome the campaign.
“The survey, which is timely and relevant to the welfare of both registered farriers and equines, underlines the importance of careful risk management by farriery professionals, and owners taking responsibility for their animals and their temperament, and the conditions in which they are kept,” he said.
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