Farriers inspect, trim and shape horses' hooves and make, fit and nail horseshoes or, in the case of racehorses, racing plates.

Farriers observe horses’ legs and hooves while the animal is stationary as well as in motion to check for irregularities, interference, peculiarities in gait or abnormalities in the size and shape of hooves. They consult with horse owners or trainers to decide on the type of shoe required, then remove worn or faulty shoes and note wear patterns and any foreign bodies, bruising, infections or deformities. They examine, clean, trim and shape hooves using knives, hoof cutters and rasps. Then then measure hooves, make a template of each hoof on a piece of cardboard and estimate the length of metal required for the shoes. Metal is selected and cut according to the type, size and weight of the shoes and use of the horse, and suitable nails chosen.

They hold shoes against hooves to find out the amount of shaping required, and then heat shoes in a forge, shape them on anvils and hammer them to size. Once a shoe is ready it is placed and nailed to the hoof and checked carefully so that clips and clenched nails are smooth and lined up with the walls of each hoof.

Farriers may remove steel shoes from horses before they race and replace them with light aluminium shoes or ‘tips’ and after the race replace these again with the steel shoes. Some farriers work in the areas of corrective or surgical shoeing.

Farriers spend a great deal of time travelling to attend to horses, mainly in country or outer metropolitan areas. Weekend and after-hours work is often necessary. Farriers must work very quickly and have the ability to handle horses, as they may be unpredictable or agitated. Farriers usually wear some form of protective equipment.

Personal Requirements

  • physical fitness and strength
  • good eyesight and hearing
  • ability to handle horses
  • awareness of personal and industrial safety
  • good eye-hand coordination

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Grade 9 Certificate.
Some employers prefer higher qualifications.

What to Study

There are three ways to qualify as a registered artisan:

1. An apprenticeship is a fixed contract between company and apprentice, ranging in duration from between 18 months and 4 years. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test leading to professional certification.

2. A learnership is a structured learning programme ranging from about a year to 3 years. A learnership comprises theoretical and practical training. Practical training is conducted on site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets experience whilst training.

3. TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges  offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (NCV) similar to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools. They are also exposed to a practical workshop component.

All learners are required to complete a practical internship under the supervision of an experienced artisan. As an alternative to doing the full qualification, a learner can apply to do a skills programme at a TVET College. Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.

For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest TVET College. TVET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MerSETA or ChietaSETA. They also receive bursary funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the NCV programme.


  • iron and steel manufacturers
  • railways
  • mining industries
  • machinery manufacturers
  • such organisations as Mittal Steel, Sasol, Eskom
  • small repair shops
  • stud farms, horse trainers, race track stables and horse owners
  • self-employment

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work as an assistant in a blacksmith shop or to a farrier
  • make an appointment to speak to a blacksmith and farrier about this type of work

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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