Skilled artisan: Farrier

Terry Hargreaves from Lostock Green, in Cheshire

‘I started shoeing when I joined the Royal Army Veterinary Core in Melton Mowbray. That is where I learned and why I joined the army. I did 8 and a half years in the army, four of them looking after military police horses at Aldershot and I rode escort to the queen in 1977 for her silver jubilee celebration. I’ve been shoeing horses for about 33 years altogether. In 1977 just after the silver jubilee I started my own business as a self employed farrier. I’m also on the farrier’s registration council, which is a regulatory body.

‘If you want to become a farrier now you’ve got to find an approved training farrier to take you on and you have to do an apprenticeship of four years and two months.

‘The hardest thing about the job is backache from bending over all day in all weathers. It takes about 45 minutes to shoe a horse. I have a bad back, and I don’t know a farrier who doesn’t. Horses are far better behaved than they used to be 20 years ago which is a good job because we’re paid to shoe horses, we’re not paid to handle them and fight them. I expect the horse to be well presented, clean, on a clean dry surface and we shoe it. If I have a horse that’s naughty, I say you get the vet out to sedate it. If you get kicked you’re off work for six weeks.

‘Because I shoe horses hot, my clothing always smells of burning hoof. I went to the bank once to drop off my takings, and the smell caused them to shutdown the computers at the bank once, because they thought they were on fire. And they had all the staff sniffing down behind the desks. I wasn’t very popular, but they still took my money! Or I go into a shop, and people start saying, can you smell something burning. It happens all the time, unless you’re used to the smell, people think something is actually burning. It can be very embarrassing.’