Farrier's pride at coveted equine trade accolade

Norfolk farrier Sarah Pinkney has achieved an Associateship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers

Norfolk farrier Sarah Pinkney has achieved an Associateship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers - Credit: Danielle Booden

After forging a career caring for horses, a Norfolk farrier has become only the third woman in the country to earn a coveted industry accreditation.

Sarah Pinkney, from Gertrude Road in Norwich, is celebrating becoming an associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (WCF).

The 33-year-old began her training as an apprentice 10 years ago and, after becoming qualified, she joined Britten Farriery, based at Hainford.

Sarah Pinkney, from Britten Farriery, working on a horse at Carr Farm in Ormesby

Sarah Pinkney, from Britten Farriery, working on a horse at Carr Farm in Ormesby - Credit: Danielle Booden

Now, after three years of training, theory exams and practical assessments she has become the first farrier to achieve a WCF associateship in Norfolk since her employer and mentor Stephen Britten did the same six years ago.

The pair work together across Norfolk, using two mobile vans with portable gas forges and grinders, to mould and fit custom-made shoes for animals ranging from racehorses and show champions to leisure horses. 

Mrs Pinkney said: "Obviously I am proud of what I have done. The associateship feels like a big achievement to me, and it is definitely the hardest thing I have done physically and mentally."

She said she was fortunate to work with Mr Britten and learn from other farriers as the centuries-old trade develops.

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"In some ways it has not changed at all - it is essentially putting metal on feet like they did in Roman times. But although we are doing the same task, our understanding of it has just skyrocketed.

"For the associateship you have to convince the examiners that you know how to deal with different ailments and conditions, foot and limb imbalances, how it affects the horse, that sort of thing. 

"We have a lot of overlap with other professions like vets, horse physios and horse chiropractors, so you need to be able to communicate across all aspects of it."

Sarah Pinkney, from Britten Farriery, working on a horse at Carr Farm in Ormesby

Sarah Pinkney, from Britten Farriery, shoeing a horse at Carr Farm in Ormesby - Credit: Danielle Booden

Although she has never owned a horse herself, Mrs Pinkney said she "always loved biology" and studied equine science at Hartpury College in Gloucester. After initially struggling to find the right job - including trying to become an accountant for a year - she was convinced to explore farriery by a friend who was a showjumper.

"It took me quite a while to get to the point of finding what I wanted to do but, now that I have, I love it and I don't know what else I would do," she said. 

Stephen Britten and Sarah Pinkney of Britten Farriery

Stephen Britten and Sarah Pinkney of Britten Farriery - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mr Britten said: "There are not many qualified farriers who go on to do their associateship, and then in a very male-dominated industry Sarah is one of only three females in the country who has got this, so it is a very big achievement."

Stephen Britten, master farrier at Britten Farriery, shoeing a horse at Carr Farm in Ormesby

Stephen Britten, master farrier at Britten Farriery, shoeing a horse at Carr Farm in Ormesby - Credit: Danielle Booden

Norfolk farrier Sarah Pinkney has achieved an Associateship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers

Norfolk farrier Sarah Pinkney has achieved an Associateship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers - Credit: Danielle Booden

Sarah Pinkney, from Britten Farriery, working on a horse at Carr Farm in Ormesby

Sarah Pinkney, from Britten Farriery, working on a horse at Carr Farm in Ormesby - Credit: Danielle Booden

Sarah Pinkney, from Britten Farriery, grinding a shoe ready to go on a horse at Carr Farm in Ormesby

Sarah Pinkney, from Britten Farriery, grinding a shoe ready to go on a horse at Carr Farm in Ormesby - Credit: Danielle Booden