APPRENTICE farrier Robbie Hawthorne from Brockenhurst is celebrating a winning first season in the England team with the final triumph nailed at an 11-nation international competition.
Robbie (21) is following in the anvil strikes of his grandfather George Kirkby with whom he works at his Chapel Farm Forge in Sway alongside his uncle James shoeing horses.
It is nearly a year since he was placed second overall in a field of 23 to win one of the five team places at the England farriery apprentice team trials in York.
His competition season started with victory for England over rivals from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Army outside Belfast in April.
It has just been rounded off with a home win at his first full international, the British Farriers Blacksmiths Association event at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.
In between, Robbie had a busy schedule of county show competitions against other apprentices at the Bath and West, Devon, New Forest, Romsey and Kent – and he was delighted with the results.
“I won all of them, except for my home New Forest Show, in which I was second but there was a really strong entry for that because it’s such a big show,” said Robbie.
At Stoneleigh Park every point counted and so his individual eighth place out of more than 40 of the best apprentices from 11 countries was still key to overall victory for England.
The next step is a bid for reselection for the England apprentice team at trials in January for the final few months with a UK-based home international before he qualifies as a fully-fledged farrier when his four-year apprenticeship ends next May.
He told the A&T: “I don’t expect to move up to the full England team any time soon – they are the best in the world now, after Stoneleigh – and there are only four places. It will be a long process but I’ll keep working at it!”