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TAWS Farriery Course, Khartoum


This farriery course, which was promoted by the Sudan Equestrian, is the latest part of a programme to improve foot care in equines in Sudan. A second course will be organised in about 12 months time. Sport horses will not be the only beneficiaries as the knowledge gained by owners and trainers will also be available to other groups using horses such as police and the draught horse sector.

The Transport Animal Welfare and Study Association (TAWS) initiated the project under the guidance of Professor Ramsay Hovell, while the local planning has been the responsibility of Dr Ayman Nahas. Funding for farriery training has been provided by SPANA, TAWS and the Sudan Equestrian Federation. None of the expert instruction could have been provided without the attendance of Mr Bernard Duvernay on a first visit to Sudan. He is a Consultant Farrier from Switzerland and has travelled widely to give his experience. Much information has been gained from him on this course and his contribution to the seminars for owners and veterinary surgeons will also be valuable.

The basis of all good farriery is regular trimming and balancing of hoof overgrowth. In horses to be shod, shoe fitting and careful nailing follow this. All procedures are performed in accordance with the horse's conformation. Farriers on the course have had theoretical instruction as well as considerable trimming and shoeing practice. Special cases of lameness and hoof deformity have received attention. The trainees have made much progress in a short time. There are representatives from racing stables as well as the draught horse community and the police.

Farriery Training in Sudan Year One, 2002/2003

The first farriery course, for 8 trainees was organised in Khartoum and took place over 2 weeks in February 2003. This demonstrated to young farriers and horse owners alike the benefits of proper trimming and balancing of feet, and correct fitting and nailing of shoes. Immediately, the difference in appearance of hooves and the way in which many of the horses moved was apparent. Mr Bernard Duvernay, the Swiss consultant farrier, also recommended some changes to stable management practices which in the longer term would reduce the incidence of deformities to conformation of legs and feet that commonly affect locally bred animals, mainly of those of thoroughbred type. Undoubtedly too, certain injuries could be reduced indirectly through these measures. Click here for more details of this course.

Farriery Training in Sudan Year Two, 2003/2004

A second course and possibly a third one, are planned for 2003/2004, when it is intended not only to introduce several more farriers to technical standards at a professional level, but also to provide instruction in forging shoes and to extend the use of properly fashioned iron shoes. Forming shoes to fit individual feet is an integral part of good farriery and on occasion it is necessary to design special shoes to assist recovery from a particular condition or development defect. In many instances, in order to resolve cases of lameness or counter abnormal gait, veterinary surgeons and farriers need to collaborate closely.


TAWS has a continuing commitment in an advisory role, with financial assistance for 2 years from SPANA, to collaborate with the Sudan Equestrian Federation (SEF) in this programme of foot care improvement so that in future sound basic information will be available and training.retraining of farriers will become established practice. It is also desirable that veterinary students, undergraduate and postgraduate, have the opportunity to participate in this speciality. Routine foot care is a requirement in the majority of domesticated species, predominately the ones kept intensively and most importantly those used for work and sports activities.

Development of Facilities

A suitable location for both a foot clinic and future courses in farriery would be at the Khartoum Central Veterinary Teaching Hospital (KCVTH) in postgraduate education. It is close to the Equestrian School and many stable yards, as well as industrial areas around Sagana where horses work. The Thoroughbred stallions owned by the government which stand at stud are maintained on this site.

A partnership could be formed by the SEF and the KCVTH which is a Ministry of Animal Resources establishment, for the purpose of providing adequate facilities in which skilled farriers would offer a shoeing service while others could gain experience under supervision. Such an arrangement, given time, would have a significant effect throughout the horse industry in Sudan, for example, from riding horses in Darfur, to working horses in Omdurman and other cities and towns, as well as for breeding stock and sports horses in Khartoum.

Premises Requirements

At the KCVTH a number of large animal units exist which seem to be excessive to the normal occupancy rate and several of these could be converted to provide space for a forge, a secure store for equipment, and say two bays for shoeing horses simultaneously. Two adjacent boxes might need to be combined into one to give a satisfactory amount of space for each bay. Ventilation in these buildings might be a problem in hot weather and a shade shelter, similar to the "Tote" area at the racecourse, could be erected next to them so that part of the procedure (trimming and balancing) could be done outside.

It is necessary that level hard standings are available in the bays and the outside space so that horses can stand square and have their confirmation and posture assessed. It is no less important that there is a level hard surfaced track on which a horse's gait can be observed at the walk and the trot: this should be about 30 metres long at least and close by the shoeing area. There is a classroom already in one of the other nearby buildings which could be used for theoretical instruction, provided permission had been given for it to be shared with other groups.


The main items required for modern forging are a gas cabinet type of forge to operate with bottled gas, and a suitable make of anvil in good condition, possibly two. Farriers' tools will also be needed to handle, form and shape hot metal i.e. tongs, hammers, pritchels, fullers, punches etc. Other essential equipment would be foot stands, tool boxes, aprons, goggles and a hoof tester.

In addition, a farrier's kit for removal of shoes (a) trimming hooves, (b) and replacing shoes, (c) consists of :-
a) Buffer, hammer, shoe puller, nail puller
b) Rasp with handle (1st phase), hoof nippers, hoof pick, hoof knife, toeing knife, nylon hammer and knife sharpener.
c) Rasp with handle (2nd phase), driving hammer, nail cutter, clench groover and clenching tongs.

Some of the less specialised items can be obtained locally in Khartoum, but there must be provision for replacement or repair of tools as required, for instance, rasps can fracture and also need to be renewed regularly or the standard of work will deteriorate.

It is possible that financial resources may be donated by an international agency to cover part of the cost of this equipment, which would contribute materially to the setting up of the forge, but convincing plans or evidence of progress towards the facility itself would, not reasonably, be expected.

Shoes and Nails

Farriers should decide what is the correct size of shoe for a particular horse and also on the appropriate nails for it. He should advise on the type of shoe to be fitted for whatever purpose. To enable this to happen, it is recommended that a range of shoes and nails of the types likely to be in most demands is available so that they can be fitted as required without delay. This may mean establishing a store or shop with good stock control within easy distance of the KCVTH.


An aspect of this project which deserves careful consideration is the management of it. The farriers' main skills are in foot care and shoeing and they should concentrate their time and energy on these. However, there will be administration in booking appointments for animals to attend the forge, the keeping of records and collection of charges for the various services provided. There is scope too for equipment associated with hoof care and shoeing to be supplied at retail rates. This could include hoof preparations (oils etc.), items of equipment for grooming besides hoof picks, and shoes and nails as mentioned in the paragraph above. Such a 'shop' need not be based on the forge but the main items referred to should be available near at hand. As the farriery unit must have competent administration there would be some merit in combining the two and this would facilitate consultation about the items to be stocked.

The Ministry of Animal Resources/KCVTH. and the SEF should naturally be parties to any agreement on these proposals, but in the case of the 'shop' and accounting procedures for the farriery service, these two bodies could decide to delegate a management role to third party. Alternately, the shop could be left to private enterprise. It might be worth approaching the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG Sudan) in Khartoum II as they have experience of working with craftsmen such as blacksmiths, in forming associations and creating co-operatives with appropriate recording and banking processes. At this time, however, they have had no contact with the specialist farriery side of the blacksmith trade. but there is undoubtedly some common ground here. It appears, that failing any other ready solution, this option should be considered. Asking ITDG for their advice on similar projects does not make any commitment, but could yield useful information or contacts.

Ultimately, any manager would have to be responsible to representatives appointed by the parties participating in the appointment, but this would probably be easier to arrange than the selection of the right person for the job in the first place. One person representing SEF on any management committee should have direct responsibility for liaison with the farriers.


The continuing programme for farriery training in Khartoum has been outlined and a case has been made, in a series of proposals, for further developments aimed at achieving sustainability in this speciality so necessary for the welfare and good performance of equines. We could say "do not reduce the animal's value by saving the costs of routine hoof trimming and correct shoeing".

It is desirable that progress is maintained by providing the necessary infrastructure to retain trained farriers and to enrol new recruits for training who have the potential to extend the service in the future.

R. Hovell, May 2003



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