Astrual Weekes’ love for horses is immeasurable. The passion he has for grooming the majestic animals stems from the first time he made contact with one.
For the past 20 years he has been the farrier and one of the horse grooms for the mounted branch of the Royal Barbados Police Force. He says his career was not merely a job, but a way of life for his entire family.
“From as long as I can remember I was coming here during every summer vacation,” Weekes says. “I wanted to learn the trade. At that time a guy by the name of Anthony Benn was in charge and I heard that the mounted police division needed a farrier. I thought I would have been the perfect candidate for the position since I was young and willing to put in 33 1/3. I had no formal training, but this is a practical job and since I grew up in the stables, it was not hard applying what I learned from my uncles and cousins to the job at hand. So basically I came here as a boy and grew up as a man. I do two separate jobs here: I am a contracted farrier and a groom.”
The father of two went into his daily routine at the stables, located in the compound of District A Police Station in St. Michael.
“As a groom, I clean the stables and sweep the stalls,” Weekes says. “If you go to other stables you would see hay bedding on the floor but here we use rubber mats, which require less grass. I work from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. On mornings, the horses eat less grass than they do on evenings, and overnight we put some grass for them to feed on; their diet usually consists of grass and feed and they eat 14 bales daily. Hay is very important because it helps them to digest.”
Weeks wants the best for his boys. The eldest, who is 16 years old, told his father he wants to be a farrier when he grows up. That’s good news for Weekes, who says he is happy about that.
“Early last year, I was planning to do a course for $1,200, but I said I would invest that in my son so he can be 100 percent qualified not only in the practical but the theory.”
One day Astrual hopes to turn what he does into a family business since all he and his family ever do is “talk horse 24/7”