What the job involves
Farriers use a variety of tools to care for the feet of horses, donkeys and mules; as well as make and fit horseshoes. The role involves discussing the horse’s shoeing requirements with the owner, checking the horse’s leg, foot and hoof, cutting away any excess hoof growth and making sure the horse is properly balanced, making horseshoes by hand or machine, and using a hammer and anvil to fit the horseshoes. You may also work with vets and equine hospitals to provide corrective shoeing and surgical farriery.
You need to be able to handle horses with confidence and enjoy working with them. You have to be able to use common sense and be comfortable working without supervision. Farriery is physically demanding and involves lots of bending and lifting, therefore you should have a good level of physical strength and stamina.
Farriers are usually be self-employed, which means your working hours will depend on your customers needs, and may include some weekends. You may need to travel long distances to customers’ premises, like farms, riding schools or stables. You’ll need a driving licence and vehicle that’s suitable for carrying a mobile workshop, stock and tools. You’ll work outdoors in all weather conditions.
Getting into the profession
To become a farrier you need to register with the Farrier’s Registration Council (FRC). You can achieve this by completing an advanced level apprenticeship with an approved training farrier, or after training with the British Army.
Three colleges in the UK provide approved farriery apprenticeships:
- Herefordshire and Ludlow College
- Myerscough College
- Warwickshire College
Salary and benefits
Starting salaries for qualified farriers in the UK tend to be in the range of £16,000 to £25,000 a year. Experienced farriers can earn £30,000 and sometimes more.
These figures are intended as a guideline only, many farriers are self-employed so their earnings will vary depending on their fee or hourly rate and the type of work they perform.
Becoming a farrier offers many professional opportunities. Many farriers move into a permanent role with large stables, horse breeders, or mounted regiments of the police or army; however you could also work with vets in equine hospitals or in the farriery suppliers business.
You could also move into education by becoming an Approved Training Farrier (which would allow you to employ and train apprentice Farriers), lecturer or farrier consultant.
All registered farriers are required to undertake continuing professional development (CPD), therefore opportunities for further education are wide-ranging. For example, qualified farriers may go on to study for the Associateship and Fellowship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. Alternatively, if you are able to attend Myerscough College (Preston) on a part time basis, you could study for the Foundation Degree in Farriery.