A phone call tip from British farrier Giles Holtom FWCF the other day tipped me off to a row among British farriers over the admission of a young man who is a convicted pedophile into the apprentice scheme in Great Britain.
Apparently Giles and the UK Horse Shoers Union (UKHSU) object to the decision of the Farriers Registration Council (FRC) to admit the fellow into an apprenticeship. It sounds like the FRC, as you may imagine, is bound to follow the letter of the law, which does not discriminate in employment of pedophiles.
But perhaps the law is not quite understanding of the position of trust that many farriers are given by their clients, is the opinion of many of the UKHSU's outspoken critics of this move.
Come to think of it, they are pretty critical of everything the FRC does. Last year, UKHSU member Peter Baker RSS was elected to a seat on the Farriers Registration Council, and has been an agent for change, particularly in the area of farriers having more say in the governance of their own trade.
A few years ago, the roof was patched on our office building. The roofing crew arrived n a big van and worked hard. They used the Hoofcare & Lameness bathroom, came and went with my blessing. One day one of them stopped by my desk and asked me if a knew a fellow here in Gloucester. I said I did, but stuttered that he wasn't around any more, he'd been sent to jail for a long time.
The man brightened and said, "I know, I'm his cellmate!" And that's how I found out that the men on my roof and in my bathroom were a pre-release work crew from the county prison.
I still get the chills thinking about it. Oh yes, and the roof still leaks.
Let's hope the British apprentice works in racing stables and not on family ponies.
You can read some of the facts in a story in this week's printed copy of Horse and Hound, or read the online version of the story, which I think is shortened.
If you think farrier politics in the USA are ripe, take a look at some of the articles posted on the home page at the UK Horse Shoers Union, where many independent-thinking or just plain esoteric farriers have found a voice. Many have axes to grind with the "system" and the "establishment" of British farriery, which makes the freedoms that American farriers enjoy seem well worth fighting for. Their forums (aka bulletin boards) are sort of difficult to understand unless you know the players and organizations. But the characters are larger than life.