Gary Darlow – Farrier focus
An incredible 7 times National Champion, Gary is extremely well respected and talented farrier achieving consistently high results in farriery competitions, in addition to be a ‘dab hand’ at fishing too!
With thanks to his daughter Becki for her assistance with the interview, Gary shares a few thoughts and opinions…
Why did you decide to become a farrier?
It was a career based, not on my academic skills; but on my practical ability which was important to me as that was where my strengths were.
Who (or what) has been your biggest influence or inspiration in your career both within and outside the profession and how?
Mr. David Gulley for training me and putting up with me over the years. To all the competitive farriers across the country that make older farriers evaluate our practice and improve our standards.
What’s the most unusual shoeing job that you have done?
Shoeing a donkey, they aren’t ideal.
What is the funniest incident you have experienced whilst at work?
When we arriving at a yard in Leicestershire with another apprentice driving the works van. Mr. Gulley asked me whether we were ‘okay behind’, after confirming we were a few times we then went slap bang into a milk tanker and got capitulated a few yards forward. It wasn’t okay behind!
If you didn’t become a farrier what do you think you would have done? (If you could do it all again would you be a farrier?!)
I would have joined one of the forces, possibly the marines.
What has been your highest point of your career so far?
Training apprentices and watching them become successful. I have been lucky enough to have some very successful lads over my career.
What has been the lowest point of your career so far?
Dealing with unprofessional people, they only hinder us.
What is the biggest regret you have in your career so far?
I should have travelled more when I was younger experiencing more of the craft in other parts of the world.
What advice would you offer those just beginning their apprenticeship?
I would never put anyone off taking up this profession, but I would encourage them to have skills outside this field.
What advice would you offer those just starting up their own business?
Keep your standards high and ensure customers are happy with your work.
What’s your next goal?
The next short-term goal would be to train my next apprentice. Long- term retire and enjoy all I have earned over the years.
Why do you participate in farriery competitions?
Quite simply, because I like to win. I am competitive and it keeps me young.
What do you think the farriery industry will look like in the next 20 years? Do you think we will have more or less farriers, do you think training will have changed?
Yeah training is definitely going to develop, the training scheme has to change to improve to raise standards. The quality and the dedication of the ATF’s has to improve.
What do you think is the biggest threat to the farriery industry?
Training too many apprentices that are not quality. Quantity, with no quality, will only damage this profession.
What is your biggest concern for the farriery industry?
The putting off of the true craftsman due to over-training of apprentices.
What keeps you sane and motivated when you are having a bad day?
A beer and tea. Whatever happens I still get to come home to nice food.
Favourite past time away from hot steel and horses?
Fishing, any kind, anywhere.
Trick or tip (please provide a trick or a tip, this may be shoeing, shoemaking or trimming or could be getting money out of bad payers or handling nervous horses)
When competing do the basics very well (foot dressing, clenching up, nailing on) be consistent and you can’t go far wrong. The best farriers in the world are good across a broad spectrum of skills, not just exceptional at one thing.
interview by Claire Brown