I have been involved with horses since an early age and have ridden competitively in both Children’s and Junior’s. I have travelled to the United States of America, where I worked at a holiday riding school, spent some time in the United Kingdom and the spent a year in Thailand running a horse trail business. in 2008 I returned to South Africa and spent a few months with Phillip Kotze to see if the Farrier business was for me.
I have been fortunate in doing my three year apprenticeship to have worked with and be tutored by some of the top farriers in South Africa.
In 2009 I moved to Johannesburg to start my official three year apprenticeship with a certified tutor, Farrier Chad Saphire, who was then Chairman of the SA Farriers Association and was instrumental in getting the training of farriers in South Africa registered with the relevant SETA. After a year I decided to move on to experience other areas of shoeing and moved back to Cape Town to work under Robbie Miller who is one of the finest blacksmith protagonists and his skills are phenomenal in this area.
My last year was a move back to Johannesburg to work under a master blacksmith, Scott Borland. Here I learnt the true art of blacksmithing and also the art of shoe making from raw metal. At the end of 2011 I did both my theoretical and practical exams, run by the international examiner, Chris Gregory of F.I.T.S (Farrier Internal Testing System).
I passed these exams and was awarded my certificate of registration as a certified farrier. (Only woman of the seven who passed). After passing, I have spent the last five months working for a master blacksmith Sean Eggersglusz in Nelspruit as part of his team of farriers.
I have now started my own practice back in Cape Town and hope to provide a professional, dependable service to the equine community.
Unfortunaly in South Africa, unlike the UK, almost anyone can trim and do shoeing, as no licensing or registration is required.
How do you, as a concerned horse owner decide on a farrier?
South Africa at the moment has no formal training facility for farriers. ,The current SA Farriers Association is a voluntary body who has set out guidelines for the training of farriers based mainly on a 3 year apprenticeship with an approved farrier.
Good podiatric care is essential for the performance of your horse, but also its longevity. A quality farriers does more than shoe a hoof, he trims, balances, accesses horses’ gait, diagnosis and pathologic problems that arise and keeps your horse sound and pain free. Badly shod horses not only cause lameness but also long term anatomical problems can occur.
Good farriery is like vehicle maintenance, if you use cheap unqualified people it will break down and cost you in the long term.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Is the person registered with a recognized Farriers Association. How long and where did he/she train and where did it take place. Who did they do their apprenticeship with, where they recognized training farriers. (min 3 years). Ask about what farriery courses they have attended and how do they keep up to date with modern practice.
This is very important as shoeing for a number of years is essential, the farrier may have had no formal education but has been well trained and has many years of experience.
How does your farrier interact with and handle your horse. Watch how he/she approaches the horse, accesses the foot and handles the horse and feet. Is he/she calm and relaxed? You need someone who has experience over time with horses, has respect and empathy for your horse’s welfare. Remember firmness is not abuse.
The horse community is very small, so ask around from your trainer, veterinarian, owners of competitive yards and other knowledgable horse owners. If your horse needs special shoeing a vet’s advice is always advisable so as to work together with your farrier.
Is your farrier punctual, keeps his appointments, and sends you a bill on time. Today with cell phones, email, EFT’s there is no reason not to communicate with clients. Are you confident that your farrier will do your horse without you being there? If he/she is not responsible about running the business then the likelihood of him/her being responsible for the wellbeing of your horse is not good.
Costs of farriers vary as each sets his own fees. There is usually a common trend in fees as farriers do communicate and are aware of market forces. Ask around as to what the usual fees are for trims, shoeing and travel etc. do not choose a farrier because he is cheap, you might pay for it in the long run. The issue here is not cost but the quality and peace of mind you get.
It may take time to find the right farrier, don’t take shortcuts, do your homework and don’t accept anything you are not happy with. Remember it’s for your horses comfort and soundness and long term reliability that counts