A day in the life of a Kentish farrier

Kent farrier (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Kent farrier (photo: Manu Palomeque) - Credit: Archant

Chris Wiggins on how his childhood love of horses and the outdoors led to the career he loves

Kent farrier (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Kent farrier (photo: Manu Palomeque) - Credit: Archant

Name: Chris Wiggins

Job title: Farrier

Based: Ashford area

(Photo: Manu Palomeque)

(Photo: Manu Palomeque) - Credit: Archant

Tell us about you

I was born in Dartford and lived in Longfield until I was nine and my family moved to Hawkenbury, where my mum owned and ran a livery and riding school. As a child I always preferred being outside than being at school. I attended secondary school at Cornwallis where I enjoyed science and maths, although in hindsight I wish I’d learned foreign languages too, but at the time I preferred anything practical. I had my first horse when I was about four years old, her name was Hayes. As a child I was a member of West Kent Meopham pony club and up until the age of 15 I used to compete in pony club triathlons, which involved running, shooting, swimming and riding. I decided I wanted to be a farrier when I was nine and at 11 I started going out at weekends and school holidays on work experience with our farrier Gary Burton. After finishing my GCSEs I started my apprenticeship working with Gary.

Your qualifications?

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To become a farrier you require four GCSEs, Cs and above, including Maths and English language. I did a four-year apprenticeship with the Farrier’s Training Agency in Hereford, which included block-release sessions at farrier training school. I then took the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers, the entry level exam required to be able to practise as a farrier in the UK, continuing to work with Gary for about three years as a qualified farrier. In 2000 I started my own business. I had a good customer base when I started on my own and was grateful for Gary’s blessing to take on some of his clients as his business was of a substantial size. After a few years of general farriery work, I became interested in the science and theory side of the job. I spent time with the leading specialists in remedial shoeing and in 2006 I passed the Associate Worshipful Company of Farriers exam with honours. I was incredibly proud as the AWCF is one of the most difficult and challenging farriery exams in the world. While preparing for my associate exam I met farrier Dave Nicholls, who introduced me to the Equine Lameness Prevention Organisation. I am now a Certified Lameness Specialist and for the last nine years I’ve been a certified instructor and examiner for The Equine Lameness Prevention organisation and sit on the board.

Who suits the work?

This job is best suited to someone who can appreciate and tolerate the English weather whatever the season.

A typical day?

Most days for me involve being on the road by 6.30am and getting back home between 5.30 and 8pm, six days a week. I have a range of clients from now-retired ponies I have been shoeing for 20 years to four-star Star International Event Horses. I also spend a day week working with the Bell Equine Hospital in Mereworth. My main passion is working on horses to resolve their problems and making a significant improvement in their quality of life. I love the challenge and rewards of helping horses and owners who’ve sought help elsewhere and haven’t seen the desired results

Do you have staff?

I have a qualified farrier who works for me one day a week.

You in five years?

I see myself continuing with day to day farriery but concentrating on remedial and challenging cases, putting more time aside for research projects and lectures, as well as educating horse owners about the science behind their horses’ wellbeing.

Any hobbies?

I enjoy golf, fly fishing for trout and generally being outside and of course, spending quality time with my wife Kristy. We recently got married in Egerton.

Marks out of 10?

On a good day I’d say a 10 for job satisfaction but like so many things in life, you only get out what you put in.

Get in touch

chriswigginsfarrier@hotmail.co.uk. For more information on becoming a farrier, visit: www.farrier-reg.gov.uk

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