Taranaki-based farrier, Andrew (Jock) Good has been shoeing horses of all ages, shapes and sizes for over 39 years. However, it hasn’t just been 39 years of nailing shoes on feet day in day out, for the man known by his friends and family as Jock. From bull riding to training Group One winning racehorses, Jock’s done all sorts of incredible things alongside his farriery career. We caught up with this well-known personality in the farrier industry and recently appointed president of the New Zealand Farrier’s Association to find out his story.
Jock’s involvement with horses goes back much further than the 39 years he’s worked as a farrier. Growing up on a dairy farm in Hunterville, with a jockey turned sharemilker father, Jock was first introduced to horses at age five, when his father arrived home with a two-year-old unbroken pony called Gypsy in the back of his car.
“My old man bought the pony at a horse sale at Fordell in Wanganui,” explains Jock. “He took the back seat out of his brand new Vauxhall Velox and put the pony in the back to get it home, can you imagine putting a pony in a brand new car these days?”
After his father had done the breaking in, Jock learnt to ride on Gypsy, sharing the pony with his two younger brothers and younger sister. The only one of the siblings to show a strong interest, Jock progressed to Pony Club and competitive show jumping and eventing.
“I started pony club at about nine or 10 year’s old and did a bit of everything. I had what was called an A-grade pony in show jumping and rode competitively in eventing too. I was captain of the Waikato Pony Club champs team twice.”
Given his involvement and love of horses, a farriery apprenticeship seemed the most suitable path when the time came for him to leave school and take up a trade. Jock’s parents had relocated to Taranaki from Hunterville during his childhood, and the farrier’s apprenticeship he ended up taking was with Graham Jones in the small town of Pio Pio, a couple of hours drive north of Taranaki.
“I would have been happy to milk cows, but my parents wanted me to do a trade and everyone looks at a farrier and thinks they are a millionaire because of how much they charge and that’s where I ended up,” he laughs. “I remember them driving me up to start on Waitangi Day in 1978.”
At the end of his 3 and ½ year apprenticeship, Jock didn’t go straight to full time shoeing, instead taking on a daring new sport.
“In the early 80s I went into rodeo, competing in saddle broncs and bull riding for a couple of years. I just missed out on the Rookie Title one year.”
However, at 21, a great opportunity came knocking when Jock was offered the chance to take over Graham’s business on his retirement. He packed in the rodeo and moved back to Pio Pio.
Back in New Zealand King Country, running Graham’s business, most of his work was shoeing farm hacks, and when motorbikes started being used more in place of horses in 1985, Jock says there were less farm hacks around and business slowed down. Consequently, the following year Jock and his new wife Helen, who he had met as a teenager through horses and married in 1985, made the decision to go back to Taranaki for Jock to start a job with top racehorse trainer, John Wheeler.
“We worked together for about eight years training racehorses, with 18 months in partnership together. I did a lot of breaking in and starting of young horses while still shoeing part time on the side.”
Jock had a hand in the career of several successful horses that were in the stable during that time, including Poetic Prince who won the Cox Plate in 1988 and Rough Habit who won 29 races and over $5 million in prize money in his career.
In the years Jock worked in racing, he and Helen welcomed both of their children Shaun (30) and Kate (27) to the world and bought their family home and property in Inglewood, just South of New Plymouth, where they still live today.
Despite having horsey parents, neither Shaun nor Kate were pony mad kids.
“Kate rode occasionally, but never competitively, and I put Shaun on a pony I was breaking in when he was little, it went under a plum tree and swiped him off, he never rode again!” says Jock.
Even though they’ve never needed the space to keep a pony, the little Inglewood lifestyle block that Jock and Helen bought 27 years ago has been the perfect base for Jock to run his business from, something he focused on full time after finishing up with the race horses in the mid 90s.
“We have the workshop and forge at home and it’s the ideal place to be to run a farriery business in Taranaki as we’re half an hour to Oakura, half an hour to Hawera and I can cover all of Taranaki, right around Mt Egmont.”
During his career, Jock’s not only shod thousands of horses, but also trained three apprentices who are now out on their own, with his fourth due to sit his final exam to become qualified late August.
“When I’ve been busy in the past I’ve had two apprentices and a qualified farrier working for me, but usually I like to start a new apprentice when the senior one is almost finished. I’ve always enjoyed having apprentices.”
It’s a trade Jock would recommend to young people who are prepared to work hard, but he says it’s a tough industry to crack in to.
“The hardest part is finding someone to work for, so my advice to anyone wanting to make a start is to annoy your local farrier, get as much work experience as you can and if you’re really keen, somewhere along the line, someone will pick you up.”
Having been recently elected as the president of the New Zealand Farrier’s Association (NZFA), one of his key objectives is to encourage more farriers to train apprentices.
“As I’ve had apprentices myself, I want to see the training side of things continue and to help people feel confident about taking young ones on.”
He’ll also work towards getting more people along to NZFA events to continue to promote knowledge sharing and keep improving the standard of farriery in New Zealand.
“I want the standard in the industry to keep improving by getting more people to come along to competitions and seminars and share and learn. I’ve learnt more in the past 20 years, than I did in the first 20 because there are a lot of good people who are happy to share their knowledge.”
At 55-years-old, with his current and quite possibly last apprentice approaching his final exam, the 40 year anniversary on his career looming, and a couple of grandchildren to keep him busy, Jock is slowing down a bit, but is far from talking retirement yet.
“I’m not planning to take on another apprentice myself at this stage, but you never say never. I’ve cut back a bit, we’ve got our bach at Onaero Bay and I’ve got a two-year-old grandson and 12-week-old granddaughter who take up a bit of time, but I plan to keep shoeing as long as the body will let me.”
(Words by Laura Hunt, photos by Ryan Teece)