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New Forest farrier Robbie forges a place in his family's history

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Apprentice farrier Robbie Hawthorne (20)
Apprentice farrier Robbie Hawthorne (20)

APPRENTICE Robbie Hawthorne from Brockenhurst has forged a place in history as the first member of his farrier family to win a place in the England team.

Robbie (20), is following in the anvil strikes of his grandfather George Kirkby and uncle James Kirkby.

His mum Caroline said: “George had previously trained his son, Robbie's uncle James, and all three work closely together as a team and, as well as shoeing horses and ponies, they all enjoy competing in farriery competitions throughout the country.

“The standard is extremely high and the competition is fierce but it is also a great deal of fun and very rewarding.”

The youngster 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.

He is being trained by his grandfather, an associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (AWCF), and busy working shoeing horses in the third year of a four-year apprenticeship, based at his grandfather’s Chapel Farm Forge in Sway.

Robbie Hawthorne with his uncle James Kirkby
Robbie Hawthorne with his uncle James Kirkby

His selection follows a fourth place in the national apprentice championships, competing against England team members among rivals from across Britain, earlier in the year.

Robbie told the A&T: “I’m very pleased – it’s really made my season.”

For the team trial Robbie had 50 minutes to make two shoes after being sent pictures and specifications for four shoes in advance – only learning of the specific designs wanted on the day.

Now he is looking forward to his first home international event, which will be in Ireland in May. He said: “This entails shoe-making for the apprentices, while the seniors shoe horses.

“Unusually we do make our own shoes, and we either work at the forge shoeing local horses or go out in the van.

“Now I’m really looking forward to being in the team. Then at the end of the year I have another trials to see if I keep my place.”

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