Getting a kick in the ribs is all in a day's work for Marlborough farrier Innes Redwood.
Redwood has been shoeing horses for the past two years after completing a four-year apprenticeship in Canterbury. Based on the family farm in Seddon, the 24-year-old plied his trade between Marlborough, Canterbury and Nelson. The pathway to caring for horses' hooves has taken a roundabout route for the former Christ College student.
"I wanted to be an engineer and went down to Canterbury University to enrol," he said. "I got there on open day and saw all these thousands of people wanting to do the same thing, and thought this is not for me."
Having ridden horses since he was 5-years-old he decided on another career path to become a farrier. He packed up his swag and went back to Seddon finding work for the summer with Waterlea Racecourse farrier Sam Esler. Finding an apprenticeship and a permanent job proved more difficult.
"Sam didn't have enough work to employ me fulltime," he said. "Instead he took me to a farrier's party and left me at the door with the instruction to go inside and find a job. I picked up my courage and walked in."
By 4am the next morning Redwood, a little worse for wear, had a job, and an apprenticeship with Christchurch farrier Paul Howlett. The job was a "culture shock " to a young 18-year-old but he stuck it out tending to between 20 to 30 horses a day to learn the trade.
"It was a big learning curve. The first year was just getting up the fitness to do the work. I had a little notebook I used to jot down each day's work. By the end of my four-year apprenticeship I counted up 4500 horses I had worked on."
The apprenticeship not only taught him how to repair hooves but also gave him an understanding of the anatomy of a horse, blood supply, and nerve endings, and how to make a full set of farrier tools from scratch.