Keeping it in the family - Three Generations of Farriers
The Western Australian Farrier, Phillip Smailes
Although he originally didn’t plan to be farrier, he remembers being in his early twenties, perhaps lounging around at home a bit too much, when dad Ken told him to get up and to start working with him, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Now aged 62 Phillip is still a full time farrier and feels he is doing his best work ever. He doesn’t feel the pressure he had when he was younger and he is enjoying working alongside his son Josh, who is an apprentice farrier.
They shoe all types of pleasure horses –all disciplines from the heavy horses to the ponies and everything in between.
Phillip has always been involved in the Farrier Industry in Western Australia, and became more involved when the AFBA was established in 1989 – he was even at one time the President of the WA Farrier Association. Although he used to participate in the farrier competitions, these days he is on the other side of the anvil as a judge.
It is a great industry’ – where you can do as little or as much as you like
‘It is a great industry’ – where you can do as little or as much as you like’. Learning the trade from his father, Ken, they hand made shoes until the 1960s when the price of a set of shoes cost around 20c – which at the time was cheaper than buying the steel to make them! For a long time he bought shoes but with both sons moving into the industry – they wanted to learn the traditional way to hand make the shoes – and now this is mainly what they do.
It started out with me showing the boys how to make the shoes and now they are trying to showing me how they do it!
However it can get competitive….. as Phillip explains: ‘It started out with me showing the boys how to make the shoes – and now they are trying to showing me how they do it!” Phillip loves the simplicity of the work to make the shoe as it needs to be accurate and precise to fit the shoe to the hoof. His family have always used Mustad Nails, in particular the slimmer nails for the more precise fit – such as the Mustad E4 and E5 Slim nails and MX50-70.
Shoeing isn’t for everyone but if you have the body and the perserverance it is very rewarding
They use the ODwyer Anvil and Mustad Tongs when making their shoes and the Mustad Leather Pads are always in their van. When Phillip was started out as a farrier, he remembers his father Ken telling him something that has always stuck with him….. “Shoeing isn’t for everyone but if you have the body and the perseverance it is very rewarding”.