An essential member of any track, the farrier has a very demanding job. From regular trims to emergency services they have their job cut out for them at all hours of the day.
What You Need
This is a position which benefits from a physical strength, the ability to work with multiple animals and a strong knowledge of horse anatomy. At the track it is also important that the farrier have a firm understanding of the Thoroughbred temperament as well as the rigors of track work.
Solid communication skills are also a must. Track blacksmiths don’t just deal with horses, they work with a whole host of different types of people and track staff.
Responsible for the trimming, shoeing, health and overall well being of the feet in their charge, the farrier has a personal responsibility to each individual animal. They also work closely with owners, trainers, jockeys & even exercise riders to ensure a sound ride and establish a healthy foot routine for each horse.
To clear up any confusion, a farrier works specifically with horses, although they do need training as a blacksmith to learn techniques for shaping shoes. In short, all farriers are blacksmiths, but not all blacksmiths are farriers.
Handling a variety of animal temperaments
Understanding the specific needs of race horses
Developing specific trimming schedules for each animal
Knowledge of the movement of each horse
Trimming of feet to encourage natural movement
Measurement and selection of the proper shoes
Forging and shaping shoes to fit & attaching them with nails
Providing solutions for lame animals and preventing further injury
Correcting bad and misshapen feet
Emergency services during practices & races
Requirements vary from country to country and many have farrier associations which offer different levels of certification programs and endorsement. Generally speaking, the more certification and training the better the work. This is a job which requires skill with blacksmith tools/ methods and a strong understanding of horse anatomy and foot disease.
Farriers at the track may be hired by the track itself, an animals owner or work for a specific trainer or stable. There is a great deal of job security for a farrier (especially a good one), horse hooves will always need someone to trim them.
A few places to start if you are interested in a career as a track farrier.
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The World Farriers Association
Brotherhood of Working Farriers Association
Farrier Industry Assiciation
American Farriers Association
European Federation of Farriers Associations
The Farriers Registration Council
Australian Farriers & Blacksmith Association
New Zealand Farriers Association
Western Canadian Farriers Association
Japanese Farriers Association
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