The making and fitting of horseshoes, as well as looking after the health of a horse’s foot.
|Historic area of significance||UK|
|Area currently practised||UK|
|Origin in the UK||Iron Age|
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Farriery, or the shoeing of horses and similar animals such as oxen, 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 is defined in the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 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.
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
Craftspeople currently known
The Farriers Registration Council has a ‘Find a Farrier’ directory on its website.
- 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)