This year’s Grand National will be ground-breaking; Sarah Brown will be the first female farrier to judge the Best Shod portion of the race, according to the Yorkshire Post.

The award is given to the horse owner and farrier deemed to have the best shod horse, both in terms of safety and fit. 

“When we judge the shod, [we] don’t know which horses are [which] – all we’re given is a stable number. That keeps it transparent,” says Brown, whose farrier business is based in Northallerton, England. “It keeps it level and it means you really are just judging what you see. If a horse is well shod, they’re going to have more traction and grip on landing and ability to keep on track.”

Brown is no stranger to breaking barriers in farriery. She was the first female farrier to attain the Fellowship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers in October 2015. The honor is held by fewer than 40 people worldwide. Brown found her passion for horses at an early age, and attended Oatridge College in Scotland. Her advisor recommended she not get into farriery, stating the trade was not “ladylike.”

“If you put [in] the effort and you sacrifice and you try and get to the top of your job in your industry, then the rewards are there,” says Brown. “I want to inspire girls and boys.” 

During the 2021 race, Rachel Blackmore, of Ireland, became the first female jockey to win the Grand National.

The 2022 Grand National, held Saturday, April 9, at the Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England, will see 40 jockeys compete. It is one of England’s most celebrated races, and one of the oldest, dating back to 1839. The 2022 event scheduled can be found here.

“Over the 3 days, we’re going to be looking at just under 100 horses to see if they’re shod suitably for the ground they’re running on,” says Brown. “They’ve got to be shod for the right length – they’re traveling at a fast pace over deep ground so we don’t want to see any shoes coming off.”

Learn more

  • Times They (Still) Are a Changin’: Farriery is an art and science steeped in tradition. Within that tradition is a commitment to honoring the basics. Yet, there is always a constant evolution within the system. New products come and go. New theories and research emerge that reshape our thinking about the horse. Some things will never change, but many others do.