Currently viable crafts




The making and fitting of horseshoes, as well as looking after the health of a horse’s foot.


Status Currently viable
Craft category Metal
Historic area of significance UK
Area currently practised UK
Origin in the UK Iron Age
Current no. of professionals (main income) Approx. 3000
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
Current no. of trainees Approx. 350
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers
Minimum no. of craftspeople required



Farriery encompasses the assessments of the equine’s Hoofcare requirements, trimming and balancing the hoof and the shoeing of horses and similar animals, and is believed to date back to the Roman Empire. Originally the farrier and the blacksmith were the same person, but each required specific skills and the crafts separated over time. A farrier works with horses but needs training in blacksmithing in order to make the shoe properly; a blacksmith is a smith who works with iron and may never have any contact with horses. As well as an understanding of blacksmithing, a farrier must also be knowledgeable about the anatomy of horses, and the differences between horses used for draft, riding or racing.

Farriery became a registered profession by way of the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975, which defines farriery as ‘any work in connection with the preparation or treatment of the foot of a horse for the immediate reception of a shoe thereon, the fitting by nailing or otherwise of a shoe to the foot or the finishing off of such work to the foot’.



The skills of farriery have remained almost unchanged since Roman times – most changes have occurred in the design of the shoe. A farrier may forge the complete shoe from a straight bar of iron, or buy pre-made shoes which require further work to fit them to the individual horse. Today, shoes may be made from metal or from more modern materials such as plastics and resins.


Local forms




Issues affecting the viability of the craft


Support organisations

Craftspeople currently known

The Farriers Registration Council has a ‘Find a Farrier’ directory on its website.


Other information



  • Farriers Registration Council, What is a Farrier?
  • Arnold, J, (1977) The Shell Book of Country Crafts (London: John Baker Publishers Ltd), pp. 135-143.
  • Hickman, John, and Humphrey, Martin, (1988) Hickman’s Farriery Second Edition (London: J A Allen)