When I first heard the term 'horse farrier', I honestly had no idea what it meant and assumed that it was a mythological Pegasus. A friend of mine said that his father went away to study horse farring and it was one of those surreal moments when you have no idea what the other person is saying so you sit there and smile in awkwardness. So what is a horse farrier and what do they do?
A farrier is a horse hoof specialist who makes sure that horse has properly trimmed and balanced hooves. It is also the person who is able to apply shoes. Their job is a combination of veterinarian skills mixed with specialized blacksmithing to create the perfect horse shoe.
The word farrier actually means blacksmith in French and is based on the Latin word for iron, ferrum. Historically farriers would be responsible for not only fabricating horse shoes, but also tools, repairs, and the well being of horses. Contemporary farriers on the other hand usually specialize in horse shoeing and looking after the horses feet. Like an equine nail technician!
A farrier's work usually includes making sure that the horse's hoof is properly trimmed so that the horse can stand balanced on the ground. In cases where the horses have to carry a heavy load, work on uneven terrain, or need additional traction, a farrier may fit a a set of shoes on the horse for support. In addition to trimming and hoofing, they also deal with diseased and injured hooves, beautify the nail much like a pedicure, and to a certain degree, can install a prosthetic or synthetic hoof it need be. Usually self employed, a farrier works on-call and will often have specialized business training.
In the United Kingdom, all farriers must be trained and registered as it is illegal to perform farrier duties without accreditation. The reason being to prevent any mishaps, cruelty or suffering to horses caused by unskilled people.
Outside of the UK rules are not as strict and although it is advisable that someone who is interested in farring takes a course, it is not enforced. In the United States, a general farrier certificate requires 16 hours of study and practice to receive accreditation. When looking for a farrier check to see their certification, just to be safe.
Painting by Edward Robert Smyth (1899) from commons.wikipedia.org