Kildare and Wicklow ETB Newsletter Issue 9 Inclusion - Page 41

"During the year farriers don't get to meet up and this is a great social event, as well as giving qualified farriers and apprentices an opportunity to compete against each other in a bid to raise standards," Alwyn said.

"Last year we had a mostly-male entry but we did have several women from the UK and one lady from Canada. It would be lovely to see more women involved here too, but it's slow to catch on."

In recent weeks, Alwyn McKeown was one of two guest speakers at a seminar in Kildare organised by the European and Mediterranean Horseracing Federation (EMHF).

The EMHF represents 27 racing authorities and the main objective is to develop relations among European and Mediterranean counterparts, and to coordinate the promotion of horse racing in Europe and in Mediterranean countries.

A group of 22 delegates from Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, Turkey, Slovakia, Denmark and Ireland were in attendance and among the topics discussed were shoeing techniques, ligament injuries and regulations and rules for the shoeing of thoroughbreds.

"Even though I was a guest speaker I actually learned a lot myself and it was good to chat to farriers from other countries to learn about new products and techniques."

Alwyn McKeown also served his

apprenticeship in the UK but now runs a busy forge outside Lisburn.

"When I came home the standard wasn't great but I have since tried to build up a good service. I like to book everything into a diary, and keep note so that each client will be due a re-visit in six weeks' time".

"Not every farrier likes to do that but it's so important to become reliable."

Like so many professions, sadly there are a number of unqualified farriers operating under the radar in Ireland. It is up to each horse owner to ensure that their farrier has a recognised qualification.

"It would be good to see a legislation introduced to clamp down on those unregistered," Mr McKeown commented.

"I believe some insurance companies are requesting information on farriers in the case of certain claims by horse owners, so it is not before time," he concluded.

Indo Farming

Siobhán English


The only apprenticeship training facility for farriers in southern Ireland is the Irish School of Farriery which is situated on the Racing Academy and Centre of Education (RACE) campus in Kildare.