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Perfecting farriery skills at CAFRE

May 5, 2022

I’m Samuel Phillips from County Armagh. I have completed the first year of the Farrier Upskilling Programme at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Enniskillen Campus, where I’m training towards the Worshipful Company of Farriers Diploma.

Horses have been my love since I was a child. It must be ‘in the blood’ as my family have horses, ranging from hunters to brood mares and my grandfather was a race horse trainer.  Whilst at school, I decided that I would like to do work experience with a farrier. I knew Shane Cullen, an experienced farrier in my local area, who shod our horses. He agreed to take me on and when I finished school I started training with him. This was one of the best decisions of my life. 

I have a worked with Shane for nearly three years now. A typical day starts with me getting all the animals at home fed and checked before starting with Shane at 7am. We have a full-on day shoeing, working with a few race horse yards as well as sport and leisure horses. Fortunately we are finish daily around 5pm when I head home to sort out the animals on the farm.

Each horse presents unique issues. Shane really encourages me to perfect my forging skills which is a key part of shoe making. He inspired me to take up the CAFRE Farrier Upskilling Programme as it is important to marry the practical with the theory aspects of farriery. The more I learn, the more I realise that shoeing is really technical. Research is carried out on everything from shoe design to types of packing.  As I progress within my career I appreciate the importance of trimming to balance the hoof, the consequence of not keeping the hoof pastern axis correct and the options available to a farrier especially if carrying out remedial work. 

The course is challenging. We cover everything from anatomy, shoe making, conditions and ailments affecting the hoof and leg, shoeing for a variety of conditions and the aspects involved in running a business.  I have made some good friends on the course.  I enjoy the theory and practical aspects as the lecturers Paul Duddy and Martin Payne make it a relaxed fun environment. I now just have to learn it all!

I find the farriery industry really interesting and challenging. I know that gaining my Worshipful Company of Farrier Diploma will allow me to work worldwide. I would love to work in either Australia and if possible in America to further develop my experience. Ultimately, I would like to have my own farriery business and base it at the home farm. 

I would encourage anyone interested in becoming a farrier to not be afraid to take that step to developing a career. It is a great industry to be in and you will make many friends along the way.