Registered farriers are involved in all stages of preparing a horse's feet for fitting horseshoes. It is a skilled job requiring thorough knowledge of the theory and practice of shoeing horses.
To prepare a horse's foot and fit a shoe, farriers:
Horseshoes are made either by hand or machine and can be fitted hot or cold. Their shape can be adjusted by the farrier, using a hammer and anvil. Farriers need practical skills to shoe both normal and imperfect feet and make shoes suitable for all types of work and working conditions.
They work closely with horse owners and vets. They sometimes have to discuss foot treatments with them and devise corrective measures.
Most farriers are self-employed, so they spend time organising appointments with customers and finding new customers when necessary. They order stocks and tools used for the job and carry out general book-keeping and administrative work.
Farriers' working hours vary from week to week, depending on the needs of their customers, but usually include weekends. They do most of their work during daylight hours, but may also provide emergency cover, which can be at any time of the day or night.
They travel between different customers' workplaces, such as farms, riding stables, and animal parks, to carry out their work. They need a vehicle suitable for carrying around a mobile workshop of stock and tools, so a driving licence is essential.
Farriery is hard, physical work. It involves bending, lifting and walking, and sometimes working outdoors in all weather conditions.
Starting salaries for an apprentice farrier may be around £8,500 a year. Qualified farriers earn from around £20,000.
More experienced farriers can earn £35,000 or more.
Farriers usually charge an hourly rate or negotiate a fee for each appointment.
There are around 2,500 registered farriers in the UK. Most are self-employed and there is an ongoing demand for work.
Clients include farmers, racehorse owners, private horse owners and owners and managers of riding schools, stables, zoos and attractions where animals are kept, and the police. There may also be the opportunity to train as a farrier within the Army. The article on Army Soldier has more information.
Qualified farriers are registered with the Farriers Registration Council (FRC) and are listed on the FRC website. Some jobs may also be advertised in local newspapers and magazines such as British Horse and Forge.
Farriers have to complete an Advanced Apprenticeship with an FRC Approved Training Farrier (ATF).
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The minimum entry requirements for the Advanced Apprenticeship in farriery are four GCSE's grades (A*-C), including English language and maths, an NVQ Level 2 and the Level 2 key skills of communication and application of number, or a BTEC First Diploma and the key skills.
Candidates must be at least 16 years old and have passed the City & Guilds/National Proficiency Tests Council Forging Certificate. An Access to Farriery course is available for anyone without the academic or practical entry requirements.
Before starting an Apprenticeship all candidates have a medical examination.to ensure they are physically fit to undertake the training. The cost is around £75.
Candidates need to find an Approved Training Farrier who is willing to propose them to the Farrier Training Agency (FTA) and offer paid employment for the Apprenticeship period. There are around 300 ATFs on the FTA list.
Work experience, or voluntary work at riding schools or stables or on a farm, is valuable, as are riding skills.
The Diploma in environmental and land-based studies may also be a useful starting point.
Farriery Apprenticeships take four years and two months to complete. They start with a two-month probationary period, when the Approved Training Farrier assesses the candidate's ability to cope with the work.
As well as planned periods of work with the ATF, training includes study at one of the FTA-approved colleges:
- Herefordshire College of Technology
- Myerscough College, Preston
- Oatridge College (Scotland)
- Warwickshire College
The training also leads to an NVQ Level 3 in farriery and the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. On successful completion, newly qualified farriers can register with the Farriers Registration Council.
There is also a foundation degree in farriery for professionally qualified and practicing farriers already working within the industry.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
The success of self-employed farriers depends on getting enough customers for full-time work. It is also important to build a reputation for a high level of skill and customer care so that customers recommend the farrier to others.
Permanent employment may be available in larger riding schools, stables and horse breeders. There may be promotion opportunities to senior farrier or to a management position. Overseas work may sometimes be available, especially within the horse breeding and racing field.
British Horse Society (BHS),
Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth,
Warwickshire CV8 2XZ
Tel: 0844 848 1666
Farriers Registration Council (FRC)
and Farriery Training Agency (FTA), Sefton House,
Adam Court, Newark Road,
Peterborough PE1 5PP
Tel: 01733 319911 or 0845 118 8387 (FTA)
Herefordshire & Ludlow College, Folly Lane, Hereford HR1 1LS
Tel: 0800 032 1986
Bilsborrow, Preston PR3 0RY
Tel: 01995 642222
National Association of Farriers, Blacksmiths
and Agricultural Engineers (NAFBAE),
The Forge, Avenue B, 10th Street,
Stoneleigh Park, Coventry CV8 2LG
Tel: 024 7669 6595
Moreton Morrell, Warwick CV35 9BL
Tel: 01926 318319
Worshipful Company of Farriers,
19, Queen Street, Chipperfield,
Kings Langley WD4 9BT
Tel: 01923 260747
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.