How to become a Farrier. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Farrier do?
Farriers make and fit shoes for horses. They use some similar skills to blacksmiths, but blacksmiths cannot shoe horses unless they are registered as farriers.
As a farrier you would:
- check the horse’s leg, foot and hoof, cutting away any excess hoof growth and making sure that the horse is properly balanced
- choose the most suitable type of shoe for the horse’s size, foot condition, type of activity and working conditions
- make horseshoes by hand or machine
- fit the shoes either hot or cold
- adjust the shape of the shoes if necessary, using a hammer and anvil
- work with veterinary surgeons and equine hospitals to provide corrective shoeing and surgical farriery.
You would usually be self-employed, organising your own bookings and ordering your own stock and tools. You would also need to keep accounts and promote your business.
Your working hours would vary according to the needs of your customers, and may include some weekends.
You would travel to customers’ premises, for example farms, riding schools or stables.
How much does a Farrier earn?
Experienced farriers can earn £33,000 or more.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
To work as a farrier you must by law be registered with the Farriers’ Registration Council. The only way you can register is to complete a four-year apprenticeship with an approved training farrier.
For an apprenticeship you must be aged at least 16, pass a medical (which you have to pay for) and have a placement with an approved training farrier.
You also need one of the following:
- four GCSEs (A-C), including English and maths (or equivalent qualifications) and a Forging Certificate
- the Farriery Access course – run at colleges approved by the Farriery Training Agency.
Only 80 to 100 apprentices are taken on each year, so competition is strong. You will need to be prepared to move away from your local area to find an approved training farrier who has a vacancy.
On the apprenticeship you would get practical experience and complete 23 weeks’ block-release study at a college approved by the Farriery Training Agency. Your training would lead to NVQ Level 3 in Farriery.
When you have completed the NVQ you would take an exam for the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. Once you have the diploma you can register with the Farriers’ Registration Council.
See the Farriery Training Agency website for more details of apprenticeships, colleges offering the Forging Certificate and Farriery Access course, and approved training farriers.
- Farriery Training Agency
Training and Development
As a registered and experienced farrier you would have the opportunity to achieve Associateship and Fellowship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers.
- Worshipful Company of Farriers
You may be able to become an approved training farrier once all your own training and development is complete.
Skills and Knowledge
- an interest in working with horses
- good co-ordination and practical skills
- physical strength and stamina
- good communication skills for working with horse owners and vets
- the ability to keep accurate records and deal with payments and accounts.
There are about 2,550 registered farriers in the UK. You would usually be self-employed, and may have to travel long distances to visit clients, or perhaps relocate to find work. Clients include farmers, horse owners and owners of riding schools and stables.
You may also be able to find permanent work with large stables, horse breeders and mounted regiments of the police or army.
You could become involved in the farriery supplies business or work with veterinary surgeons or in equine hospitals.