I MET Sussex farrier Chris Peacock and recently qualified Tom Hinton, on what was a typical day for them recently
The day had started as usual for Chris, who is based in Steyning, by getting up at 5.45am, and going to his forge at Greenfield Farm , to meet Tom by 7.30am.
The first appointment of the day is between 8-8.15am, and the shoes needed for the week are always made in the forge in advance on Monday afternoons.
His own forge means visiting horses can be shod under cover. It is on a farm which has a large areas with easy access for horses and horse boxes. He is able to handle more complex remedial cases in comfort there and the premises make it possible to work later in winter and also to provide an immediate facility for clients with urgent problems.
Tom (21) has completed his apprenticeship with Chris, passing his final exams with a distinction after four years of training, which included a year at Brinsbury College.
He told me: “I absolutely love what I do, and I never don’t want to come to work. No day is ever the same and I enjoy working with horses.”
A third member of the team is Chris’s dog, Moss, who loves accompanying them on stable visits
Chris comes from an equestrian background- his father was always interested in horses- and he looks after the feet of everything from top competition horses down to Shetland ponies. But nowadays he doesn’t do very heavy draught horses anymore.
He regularly works with highly regarded veterinary surgeons in the area, handling a variety of problematic cases.
“ I have learned a great deal working with these colleagues and the best results require excellent communication between all partners, including trainers and physiotherapists,” he explained.
His specialist areas are foot balance, horse movement, performance and soundness, leading in some cases to the need for some very innovative shoeing requirements.
Chris holds the international Certified Natural Balance Farrier certificate and that of the Equine Lameness Prevention Organisation.
“The key to the job is being comfortable with horses, and then they are comfortable about you,” he said.
His worst scenario is a horse that will not stand still and which has an owner who is not prepared to manage the situation.
“But generally there is never a problem and most horses are happy enough when they have a hay net in front of them, and trust what I am doing,” he added.
When out on the road, his area covers Chichester, Arundel, Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Worthing, Shoreham by Sea, Brighton and Hove, Lewes, Burgess Hill, Horsham, Henfield and Steyning.
Their first port of call that day had been two ponies at West Chiltington, followed by a horse at Steyning, then Shetlands near Ashington- where one was a long term laminitic, benefiting from Chris’s experience in remedial farriery.
Two horses at Coldwaltham were next on the list- one a large grey heavyweight and the second a heavy Irish cob.
“That’s when it becomes tiring, with a big horse leaning against you!” he said.
I met up with Chris and Tom at Lavant House Stables, where Lucy Thompson runs an immaculate yard and a variety of eight equines needed to be re-shod.
They ranged from Bertram, the oldest horse in the yard at 24, and still going strong, down to Silver, a small pony aged eight.
Bertram, who used to event as Bertie Killinghall, is half brother to well-known eventer Lord Killingall.
He needs remedial shoeing, and Chris makes special shoes that will break over in any direction, with a special pads to keep him sound.
“ We do between 23 to 29 horses in a typical day, but no day is ever the same and sometimes local horses come to me at the forge,” he added.
Chris can be contacted on 01903 813445 / 07850 339685