SOLE MAN

(@flemingtonvrc

7 July 2020


The trade of farriery is understandably one of the most essential parts of the team preparing a horse for racing. If a horse’s feet are imbalanced or overgrown, the chances of orthopaedic injury increase. An imbalance can place strain on ligaments, joints and tendons that may lead to injury. Having a farrier who trims and shoes horses regularly will decrease this risk. Farriers are true multitaskers, and their job requires a number of skills.

  • Assess if there is any abnormal wear or bruising caused by the horse’s current shoe or activity. They inspect the horse’s legs and hooves to check for irregularities in gait or any abnormalities in the shape or size.
  • Identify common ailments of the hoof and take action to help rectify it, often working closely with an equine vet.
  • Trim and shape the horse’s hooves to make them suitable for shoeing. As hooves are like human fingernails and hair, they grow and need regular attention.
  • Adjust the shape of the shoes that may not fit, working with hammers, anvils and a hot forge. Blacksmithing skills are therefore essential.
  • Have basic psychological knowledge of horses, and an ability to read it’s temperament. A farrier may be alone with a horse they don’t know very well, so need to be able to pick up the signs if something is not right, and respond accordingly.

Horse in stable with farrier

 

FIVE MINUTES WITH ... Michael Grogan

My job is ... master farrier.The best part of my job is ... reward for effort and sense of achievement.

A challenging part of my job is ... working with young, inexperienced horses.

I love my job because ... I get to work collaboratively with stable staff, trainers and vets to achieve the one goal. 

My favourite moment in my career is ... Might And Power winning the 1998 Cox Plate after I rectified a foot issue he had.

My career background is ... being involved with horses from a young age and commencing my farrier apprenticeship at age 15.

I am setting my sights on ... developing a retirement plan after 34 years of shoeing horses.

Someone who I admire is ... there are many, however I mostly admire those that hold a ‘don't give up’ attitude because they are the ones that make you realise that little achievements matter.

My favourite racing moment is ... Might And Power winning the Melbourne Cup in 1997, leading from start to finish.

A horse I have loved or admired is ... Zipping because he won the Sandown Classic on four occasions; racing in the Melbourne Cup prior each year.

I like the sport of racing because ... of the camaraderie involved to achieve the best out of each horse.

My job was affected by the covid-19 pandemic because ... I was unable to attend race meetings. 

We overcame the challenges of the pandemic by ... buying a larger TV to watch the races at home.

In my spare time I like to spend time ... cooking, eating, taking mini-breaks and a new hobby – making gin!

The racing industry in Australia is ... proving resilient in the face of our current challenges to keep many employed.

FOOT NOTES:

  • No horse’s foot is the same shape. Shoes need to be tailored to every foot.
  • A horseshoe’s life cycle is typically 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Beyond the age of about three, a horse’s foot won’t grow much more.
Farrier trimming down hoof

Photos by Karon Photography and courtesy of Michael Grogan.