Paul Conroy Dip W.C.F. ATF.
All work in this farriery section was produced by P. Conroy.
I was born in 1975 in St Helens, Lancs. I grew up around horses as my sister always had them. I did some riding and general stable work, but I always looked forward to the farrier arriving. It made me realise at a young age that I wanted to be one. I joined the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in 1991 and after basic training and riding school I was posted to Hyde Park Barracks as a mounted dutyman where I served for the next 12 years. During this time I performed many hundred’s of Queens life guard duties and took part in many state occasions including Trooping the Colour and the State opening of Parliament. In 1995 I finally managed to gain a place in the forge. I served my apprenticeship and qualified as a registered farrier in 1999. I left the Army in 2003 and moved home to St Helens; however, after 6 months I relocated to Littleborough near Rochdale (due to my wife’s job) where I now run a busy practice. My practice is called Summit Forge and it has been going for just over 4 years. I have 1 apprentice named Sam who is 18mths into his apprenticeship. I am currently studying at Myerscough collage for a foundation degree in farriery.
Reasons & Frequency of shoeing.
Paul Conroy Dip W.C.F. ATF.
There are three main reasons we shoe horses they are:
- To prevent excessive wear and tear to the hoof capsule
- As an anti-slipping measure
- Surgical / Remedial
To prevent excessive wear and tear:
Wild horses have no need for farriers; this is because the feet are in their natural environment. The amount of hoof they grow is equal to the amount of hoof they wear away. Domesticated horses are expected to carry riders, pull carriages and walk up and down concrete streets; this puts un-natural strain on the hoof. Without some form of shoe to protect the hoof the horse would soon be lame, as the amount of hoof they wear away would far out way the amount they grow.
The horse’s foot in the natural environment is an excellent anti slipping device. The sole is concave and the frog is wedge shaped, these two structures give grip on soil, sand and other softer surfaces. Man made surfaces are much slippier, modern horseshoes are made from mild steel, every time the foot comes in contact with the ground the shoe wears away a little. This friction between the shoe and road help to stop the horse from slipping.
Surgical / Remedial
Some horses during their lifetime will need surgical or remedial shoes on. These shoes can help to treat a disease, support the hoof, correct a gait abnormality and in some cases may even save a horses life (Laminitis). There are many different types of surgical and remedial shoes for many different types of problems. These shoes along with the skill of your farrier may help to return a horse to soundness much quicker than it would do in the wild.
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Different types of shoes and their uses:
Set out below are photos of different types of shoes and what they are used for.
The Heart bar:
This shoe can save a horses life. Mainly used in the treatment of acute Laminitis to mechanically oppose pedal bone rotation, this shoe is also a good column support shoe.
The Straight bar shoe.
This shoe is also used to support the foot mainly in horses with low week heels. The bar across the back forces the frog to bear some of the weight reducing the load on the heels and allowing them to repair, this shoe is better used in horses that do fast work as there is less chance of it being pulled off than the egg bar shoe.
The Egg Bar Shoe.
This shoe works in the same way as the straight bar shoe although the egg bar does offer more support. On the negative side it is more prone to being lost as more of the shoe is showing out the back of the foot.
The Hospital Plate.
This shoe is used when the horse has a serious injury to the sole or frog that requires a clean dry dressing changing daily, the plate you can see is made from aluminium and is bolted to a straight bar shoe. When the shoe is nailed on the dressing is applied and the plate is then screwed into position using the 4 bolts you can see, when the dressing needs changing all you need to do is remove the inspection plate carry out whatever task is required then screw back the plate, this also acts as a protection plate.
The Spavin shoe.
This shoe is used in the treatment of horses suffering from bone spavin. In the early stages of the disease when the joint is fusing the horse can be lame but usually once the joint has fully fused the horse will return to soundness. The wedge heels on this shoe open up the joint spaces and cause them to fuse faster by stimulating the joint.
This shoe is used for many different things; they are very useful for horses that ‘Brush’ its works by widening the horses gait during locomotion. It can also be used as a support shoe and in the treatment of bone spavin.
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A Career in Farriery.
Paul Conroy Dip W.C.F. ATF.
A career in farriery can be very rewarding. The job is extremely demanding both physically and mentally. The old saying of “strong in the arm, thick in the head” could not be further from the truth, the modern farrier needs to be fit, strong and relatively intelligent. This is because the theory and anatomy side of the trade is very in depth and a farrier needs to be able to understand the theory and then put it into practice on the animal.
The Farriers Registration Act 1975 (amended 1977) prevents any act of farriery being carried out by any persons not on the Register of Farriers. Please follow link at the bottom for a more detailed definition of the Farriers Registration Act. As such if you want to become a farrier, you have to gain access via the qualifications below.
Set out below is a list of what educational requirements you need to attain before you can start your career in farriery.
4 GCSE at grade C or above (1 of these has to be in maths and 1 has to be in English)
Forging certificate.The forging certificate can be obtained at one of the farriery collages. These collages run courses to teach the students the basics of forging, where they will also then sit the exams.
Pre Farrier course. Those students who do not achieve the necessary GCSE’s will have to attend a pre Farrier course. This is a year long and includes your forging certificate along with other subjects like basic horse care and stable management. It also ensures you will to pass your key skills certificate in English, Maths etc.
Once you have all the necessary educational requirements and certificates, you will need to find a farrier to employ and train you for the duration of your apprenticeship (4 yrs 2 mths).
There are only three farriery colleges in England and one in Scotland. They are:
- Hereford College
- Warwickshire College
- Myerscough College
- Oatridge College (Scotland)
Only farriers holding the ATF certificate can employ and train apprentice farriers. Before a student can apply for an apprenticeship and a place at college he or she MUST find an ATF to employ them.
As above, your apprenticeship will last 4 yrs 2 mths. During this time, you will attend your chosen college twice a year usually for periods of 3 weeks. This is for the colleges to check your progress and polish up your skills. It also ensures that all apprentices are at the correct stage. Any student deemed not to be at the correct level would then be back blocked for 6 months. The rest of the time during the apprenticeship is spent with your ATF. This will be predominately spent out on his/her round with customers. The ATF is responsible for teaching you the trade. Towards the end of your apprenticeship, there will be periods where you will go out on your own. This decision is solely down to the ATF and his confidence in his apprentice. At the end of your final block at college (during your final year), you will sit your diploma exam. This is made up of both practical and theory elements. On successful completion of the exam, you will hold the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers which will entitle you to be placed on part 1 of the register of farriers.
This area is quite complicated and always changing so I will not attempt to explain it here. At the bottom of this page there is a link to the Farrier Training Services Website which will answer all you queries on funding and also any other aspect not covered here.
Farriers Registration Council.
The Farriers Registration Council is the governing body of all UK farriers. They are responsible for many things including maintaining and enforcing the Register of Farriers and Farriers Registration Act 1975. They are also responsible for training. Within the Farriers Registration Council is the Farrier Training Services, this department will deal with you throughout your apprenticeship. Below are links to the relevant websites for more information or you can call them. They will send you out an information pack covering in far more detail all aspects of your career in farriery.
The Farriers Registration Council, - http://www.farrier-reg.gov.uk/
Farriery training, - http://www.farrierytraining.co.uk