The art of farriery might seem like an ancient craft, but caring for the hooves of a horse is critical for their health and well being. At Myerscough College, a team of apprenticeships are eager to break into the industry.
The Bilsborrow campus offers a world renowned course in the study of farriery and there are 100 students undertaking an apprenticeship in the tough craft.
Farriery manager Linda Quinn, who has been at Myerscough for more than 20 years, says the 4-year training scheme is no mean feat.
Apprentice farriers have to be highly skilled, capable of making shoes to suit all types of horse and their working conditions.
The modern farrier must have knowledge of the anatomy of horses’ feet and legs, be able to work alongside vets, manage and handle horses, understand and meet the needs of clients and successfully run their own business.
“It is an in-depth study and certainly not easy, the apprentices will spend long times with their employers ‘on the job’ training, but have a long academic year, studying at the college in 3-week blocks over the 4 years, taking in all the theory,” Quinn says. “Learning the anatomy of the horse is vital. At the end, they are subject to a 2 ½-hour theory exam, 2 hours practical and an oral exam in order to gain their membership to the Worshipful Company of Farriers.”
Qualified apprentices from Myerscough have gone on to work on the Queen’s estate at Sandringham, across Europe and even for the Sultan of Oman. Students also worked at the London 2012 Olympics and regularly shoe horses for Lancashire Constabulary.
Nicol Coulter, 31, is due to complete apprenticeship in July 2017.
Initially set to become a photographer, after completing a university degree in the subject, Coulter opted for a career change working with horses instead.
“I didn’t grow up with horses so it wasn’t an obvious choice, but I’ve always been an outdoors person with a love for horses,” she says. “I first learned about the work of a farrier when I helped my friend whose horse was having new shoes fitted. As soon as I saw a farrier at work I just knew it was what I wanted to do with my life.
“I made countless phone calls to colleges, local farriers and read anything I could get my hands on to learn more about the industry. I just wanted to try and find out as much as possible to make sure it was the right career path for me.”