Are horseshoes uncomfortable

The farrier's luck

The farrier's luck

The old farrier's profession has a bright future. Apprentices who go into this interesting industry today benefit for the first time from independent training thanks to the new Swiss Vocational Training Act.

"Horses get sick when they wear uncomfortable shoes," said a farrier. It is the same for the horses as it is for people - in both cases, good footwear must be appropriate to the anatomy and physiology of the foot or the hooves in order to protect its health. As the horse's “cobbler”, the farrier is largely responsible for the horse's wellbeing. He therefore needs thorough training for his trade.

The Swiss Federal Office for Vocational Training and Technology has now signed a new education ordinance for farriers, which replaces the Vocational Training Act of 1978. With this reform, the opportunity was also used to modernize the farrier's profession, one of the oldest in the world. For the first time in history, the farrier received an independent training. So far, the apprentices have mostly only been able to do a combined training as blacksmith / farrier; the apprentices attended the vocational school with metal construction apprentices. But the new curriculum no longer allows this. In future, the apprentices will attend their own vocational school for farriers. In the center of Aarberg of the Swiss Metal Union (SMU), for example, the farrier area will be upgraded with its own presence alongside the metal construction and agricultural engineering areas.

Forging in the army

Horses used to be essential for people: in agriculture for arable farming and in everyday life as a means of locomotion and transport. Today horses are used in sport or leisure, but especially in the army, where there are currently almost 600 horses. Here they are used for transport in the mountains, but also in disaster relief. The fitting is crucial here. That is why the army also plays an important role in the training of farriers. 75 percent of farriers complete their training in the army. “92 members of the army are currently assigned as blacksmiths - 37 in the training columns and three in the veterinary company, says Brigadier Daniel Roubaty from the Schönbühl barracks.

The remaining 55 support the pool of the Veterinary Service and Army Animals Competence Center in training, representation and maintenance of the blacksmith-specific infrastructure. In this center, an average of 10 members of the armed forces (AdA) of all cadre levels are trained as military farriers and a further 10 AdA in young farrier courses and advanced courses.

"During use and training, around 600 horse shoes and around 8000 dead hooves are performed every year," says Roubaty.

For the professional, the farrier's profession involves more than just knowing a horseshoe. The apprentice must learn all hippological aspects, acquire veterinary knowledge - including leg and hoof anatomy - and deal with the role and behavior of the horse. More and more often blacksmiths' artistically implemented blacksmiths are in demand. "I am always impressed by the strength, creativity and enthusiasm that a farrier exudes," says Emil Weiss, Central President of the Swiss Metal Union. "My heart beats faster when I hear an anvil sing somewhere and the blows of a hammer from a forge." However, not only does the anvil “sing”, it hisses, smokes and smells strongly of burnt hair and horn when the farrier fits the horse's shoes. That is also part of the business.

The prospects for farriers are good - and the field of work is extremely varied: The trained can later work in the army, in professional and recreational sports as well as in the private sector. Nowadays, the farrier not only stays in his forge, but increasingly goes to the customers as a horse specialist. He is an important partner for horse owners, riders, drivers, veterinarians and breeders. And horse lovers and equestrians would not be able to practice their hobby or profession without a professionally shod horse.

Demand at a high level

"The willingness to keep a horse is still great," says teacher Peter Florin. The number of leisure, sport and work horses in Switzerland is now 92,000. And it is important to each of these horse owners that their animals stay healthy and can run without a care. “A horse stable invests a lot of time and money in its animals,” says SMU director Gregor Saladin. "That's why he wants the most reliable farrier for his horses."