(last updated July 2019)
What has been happening in the farriery sector
A favourable economic climate until the late 2000s encouraged people to ride and to buy a horse or pony. The equestrian industry enjoyed strong growth, with the number of horses and ponies increasing significantly from the mid 1990s. The increase in horse numbers boosted demand for farriery services.
Since then, the farrier market has stayed broadly in line with the economy as a whole.
The latest available research carried out by British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) showed that the number of horses and riders in 2015 was lower than in 2011. Increasing inflation and a lack of confidence in the economy after the Brexit vote have put consumers' disposable income under pressure and horse ownership isn't likely to increase strongly until it's clear that the economy has fully returned to growth.
Since the late 1970s (early 1980s in Scotland), only people who are registered on the Register of Farriers maintained by the Farriers Registration Council have been able to offer farriery services in Great Britain. The legislation was introduced to prevent any suffering to horses because they were shoed by an unskilled person. Because the required training takes four years, in some areas a shortage of farriers has occurred. Farriers in Northern Ireland are not legally required to register with the Council but they can if they want to. According to the Register of Farriers there are currently around 2,800 registered farriers in the UK.
There are a number of things that need to be taken into account by anyone thinking of setting up as a farrier:
- there must be a significant and active horse community in the area in which you are going to operate
- you may face competition from mobile farriers who can offer a cheaper service
- whether the apparent decline in horse riding will continue, resulting in a further fall in the horse population
Keeping up to date with developments
The Farriers Registration Council (FRC) is the regulatory body for farriers in Great Britain. Farriers must be registered on the FRC Register and must comply with a Code of Professional Conduct. The Council publishes an Annual Report and regular Bulletins as well as other publications of interest to the industry. The Council also oversees the training of Farrier Apprentices in Great Britain. Contact the Council at 14 Swan Court, Forder Way, Hampton, Peterborough PE7 8GX.
The British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association (BFBA - previously NAFBAE) represents both farriers and blacksmiths. The BFBA produces The Forge, a bi-monthly journal. Contact the BFBA at The Forge, Avenue B, 10th Street, National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire CV8 2LG.
The Worshipful Company of Farriers (WCF) promotes high standards of farriery and maintains the quality of the Diploma examination (DipWCF) which apprentices must pass. In partnership with the FRC and NAFBAE they also oversaw the development of a programme of continued professional development for the industry. Contact the WCF at 19 Queen Street, Chipperfield, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire WD4 9BT.
Useful online resources for farriers include Total Foot Protection (TFP). The Forge & Farrier website provides an online database of farriers in the UK as well as farriery information.