Leading the British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association (BFBA) is the job of the Executive Committee. Its members work on projects that aim to advance the farriery profession and look after members’ interests. They also represent you at meetings of organisations with an interest in farriery. Voting will take place at the annual general meeting on 31 October 2020. BFBA members must pre-register to attend the AGM and vote.
Craig D'Arcy is putting himself forward for BFBA President, Ben Benson for Vice-President, Abby Bunyard for Treasurer and Sarah Mary Brown and Philip Martin for the Executive Committee. These farriers have already demonstrated their commitment to the Association and are now ready to take on these roles.
What matters to Craig
Born and bred in Lancashire, I moved to Derbyshire to train as a farrier with Douglas Bradbury MBE FWCF in Clay Cross. I took my Diploma in 1990.
In 1991 I returned to my home county where I knew a lot of people in the riding fraternity; however, I didn't know many farriers. I joined the BFBA and went to my first meeting at Joe Preston’s forge. It was Joe who encouraged me to get involved with the Branch and the Association. I was chairman of the Lancashire and Cheshire Branch for a number of years.
I achieved the Associate examination of the Worshipful Company of Farriers in May 2009 and went on to achieve a Foundation degree, with a merit, in Farrier Science. I have a BSc(Hons) degree in farriery and a certificate in education – a professional teaching qualification. I am a qualified assessor.
I have always been a working farrier, and as an ATF I have trained six apprentices. This experience has provided me with the right skillset for my part-time role as a Farrier Placement Officer at Myerscough College.
I visit apprentices in the workplace and support them in the college environment. It’s my job to ensure that they keep pace with their learning, so I arrange extra tuition when necessary and also have responsibility for their welfare. I also shoe ‘happy hackers’ alongside some dressage and event horses.
Farriery has provided me with good friends and unrivalled experiences, such as being a duty farrier at the Rio Olympics. American farrier Vern Powell has become a good friend over the years and I have enjoyed spending time with him in the USA and the UK. Hosting farriers as part of the BFBA Edward Martin Cultural Exchange is immensely rewarding too, and I’ve enjoyed visiting local heritage sites with farriers from around the world.
Joining the Executive Committee is a voluntary role; I joined in 2003 and stood for President in 2009. I have also served on the Farriers Registration Council. As Vice-President for the past two years, I have supported President Huw Dyer and I am ready to stand again, dedicated to working with our Executive Committee to do the best for our members.
I encourage you to get involved and tell us how we can help you.
What matters to Ben
I grew up in mid west Wales and my father was a farrier, so I have grown up around horses and shoeing all my life. I started my apprenticeship in 1999 with Haydn Price DipWCF and finished with D. P. Smith AWCF. Haydn gave me a work ethic and a sense of professionalism and empathy that I continue to strive for every day, and David instilled the skills to achieve some great competition wins as an apprentice, which stuck with me and helped me to achieve my AWCF some 13 years later. Both are true craftsmen and their passion and dedication for their work has me in awe. In my own farriery practice, I am lucky enough to work on some of the top sports horses and I am grateful to my ATFs for providing me with the skills to play my part in their care.
I joined the BFBA in 2013 and have never looked back. I have thoroughly enjoyed helping the Executive Committee (EC) get the Association back on its feet. Seeing the Focus event go from a small 20 stand and 250 people footfall to the biggest farriery and blacksmith event in Europe gives me a massive sense of pride in what we have all achieved!
I am passionate about bringing the farriery community together – after all, we are all on the same side. We need to work collectively and smarter. Business acumen and standards have slipped, allowing pricing to drop over the long term, this is something I would like to see addressed.
The BFBA has made great progress in promoting the skills and professionalism of UK farriers, but we can do more. The COVID-19 pandemic allowed us to be recognised as ‘essential’ service providers; equine vets did not achieve this.
Being on the EC for a few years has given me the ability to demonstrate some of my skills. Planning and operations have been key to Farrier Focus and I have contributed to establishing and providing content for social media and helping the Association to communicate better with our members.
I was involved with introducing the new membership database that saved the Association thousands of pounds, and I was part of the team that brought Forge magazine back in-house from a third party publisher.
I played an integral role in establishing the positions of ‘Membership Secretary’ (Holly has made a huge difference to our office and membership) and ‘Public Relations coordinator’ (Claire Brown helps the Association to effectively communicate what we do).
I have secured a BFBA seat on the British Horse Council (from where DEFRA develops equine policy) and was therefore able to communicate quickly with other organisations, on behalf of the Association to get information and guidance for farriers and horse owners at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I feel passionately that the Association is enormously relevant for practising farriers. Collectively we have a powerful voice to feedback to the Farriers Registration Council and Government in a way that it has never been used before. As more regulations are introduced and rule changes affect training, farriers need the support and protection a trade association can provide. I want to help the BFBA to be the Association we all want and need it to be. And we also provide a variety of appropriate CPD throughout a farrier’s career.
As an industry, our work is demanding and can be lonely. The camaraderie of the farrier family has personally kept me going, especially in tough times. The BFBA and its branches can help us all when we struggle or need inspiration. I have learnt so much from working and listening to great farriers and the people who help the association. I would love to bring more people into the different parts of the Association and get farriers involved so they too can have the chance to make a difference and give something back!
I have had the amazing opportunity to work with many inspirational people and they have all given me things that I still use today. Haydn and Dave for the opportunity, Richard Ellis for demonstrating the dedication required to achieve something, Jim Blurton – an all-round professional and a wealth of talent you can’t help but find inspirational, and finally, my Father Tye Benson RSS, who gave me the insight and support to do the job I love dearly every day.
What matters to Abby
I grew up in Dorset, a sailor’s daughter, but got into horses at an early age. I completed my apprenticeship with Richard Wood RSS in 1997 and have since trained five apprentices.
In 2017 I achieved Associate status of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. One of my proudest moments as a farrier and mentor was watching one of my apprentices win at the International at Stoneleigh as part of England's apprentice team. That same year was my first year being involved with organising the BFBA Focus event. We had over 1200 people attend that year, and knowing that I played a big part in bringing that many farriers together gives me great satisfaction.
I have been Treasurer for the BFBA now for four years and the association is financially stronger than it ever has been. As a committee we have made changes, restarting the Forge magazine after the previous publisher went bust; new staff members have joined; we have new and refurbished forges at Stoneleigh and a new member’s database, which is efficient and cost-effective, while bringing us into the 21st century.
I have been happy that all the money we have spent since I’ve been Treasurer has been spent fairly, meaning that we can keep the membership subscription price low and avoid any unnecessary price hikes.
Moving to the future I look forward to completing my Fellowship for which I am currently studying, and am excited to learn new techniques and skills that are changing all the time.
What matters to Sarah Mary
I wanted to be a farrier from around 13 years of age. I did my apprenticeship with Derek Gardner AWCF in Penrith and now I'm an ATF myself. My everyday work is very varied, which I enjoy, each day is a mix. 90% of our shoes are handmade, which keeps apprentice preparations for exams at the forefront of what we do. I also believe that having a system for everything is the key to efficiency, and I'd like to think I'm passing that on through teaching.
I love everything about being a farrier...except mud.
I'm interested in keeping shoeing standards high and recognise the need for good education. We are lucky in the UK to have so many top class British trained teachers...we need to use them and recognise their worth. Respect between farriers and paraprofessionals is paramount to an easier life with less animosity.
The training system is built on good foundations by our predecessors, and we need to listen to them and be prepared to fight together for a system that's worthy of our craft and the skills it carries.
The challenges we face are many, including social media (and its negative effects), price wars, our training system, and a governing body we don’t all understand. The industry is full of good people who want to make things better, but we are all responsible for doing our bit.
No matter what our achievements, success or qualifications, at the end of the day we are all just horseshoers and we all need to pull together to move in the same direction. I have been inspired by so many people, but if I had to pick just one I would choose Derek Gardner, because he practises the professional morals I always look up to.
Outside of shoeing I'm lucky to have many things that make me happy. Shoemaking, competing (I don't think of them as work!), skiing, shooting, beating, but most importantly spending time with friends and family. Shoeing is hard going sometimes and making time for normal things is good for the mind and the soul.
What matters to Phillip
My path into farriery started when still at school. I decided that I wanted to work with horses, but (as my mother pointed out) I wasn’t brainy enough to be a vet and I would be a groom over her dead body! During the holidays I worked for Bob Pickard, a local farrier in Kirkby Lonsdale, he showed me what was involved in the job and helped me make my first shoe.
At 16 I started the pre-farrier course at Hereford college, learning the basics in anatomy and forging skills. From there I served my apprenticeship with Kelvin Lymer in Worcester, passing the Dip. WCF in November 1998. After a short trip to America to work with other farriers and compete, I started my business based in the north Cotswolds.
Over the past 21 years this has allowed me to work with some of the top horses and riders from around the world, as well as some of the characters of the Cotswolds.
In 2011 I passed my Associate examination and became a master farrier having always had an active interest in corrective farriery and furthering my knowledge. Recently I passed the Grad Dip ELR course at the Royal Veterinary College, London, This was truly a step away from day-to-day farriery and how farriers go about doing CPD that involves lots of research and having the chance to develop our own research projects.
Away from shoeing, horses are still central to my interests, recently my son decided that he wanted to start hunting so time is dedicated to helping him and also my wife who rides at 4* eventing and runs a busy competition/livery yard in Wiltshire.
Farriery has given me a great deal of enjoyment, from the benefits of working with some great horses to taking part in competitions in the UK and USA. Because of this I want to be able to give something back to the profession by way of helping run the association and grow it further.
I would like to help other farriers to develop skills through education and competition. I believe the association is here for the members and would hope that all members can feel the benefit of their membership.
I hope to be able to bring a practical, common sense approach to my part on the EC and compliment the great work already being done.
This summer we all have faced a difficult time and farriers have been exemplary in their response – this is thanks to advice given by the BFBA following the work done by the FRC to allow farriers to maintain foot care.