Vi et Virtute

‘By Strength and Virtue’ is the translation of this motto for the Worshipful Company of Farriers.  And they don’t come any better than Grahame (so named after Kenneth Grahame of Wind in the Willows), our local farrier. IMG_4901 This is a scene that has changed little since horses first started wearing metal plates on their feet.  The only difference is that in times gone by, you would have taken the horse to the local smithy to be shod.  Something I remember doing as a child when I would accompany my godmother, hacking several miles to the forge when her hunters needed new shoes.  I loved it then, as I love it now. There is something so timeless about it all. IMG_4920 Thoroughly enjoyed watching Tommy disappearing and reappearing between clouds of smoke as Grahame worked from the back of his mobile forge, IMG_4809 grinding the rough edges off the new ‘plates’, IMG_4904 and discarding the ‘toe clippings’ on the floor, IMG_4899 And in less than an hour, Grahame had left having fitted Tommy with a set of sparkling, clattery new shoes. Thank you Grahame.  Full of admiration for the skill of this traditional craft.

The Forge
All I know is a door into the dark.
Outside, old axles and iron hoops rusting;
Inside, the hammered anvil’s short-pitched ring,
The unpredictable fantail of sparks
Or hiss when a new shoe toughens in water.
The anvil must be somewhere in the centre,
Horned as a unicorn, at one end and square,
Set there immoveable: an altar
Where he expends himself in shape and music.
Sometimes, leather-aproned, hairs in his nose,
He leans out on the jamb, recalls a clatter
Of hoofs where traffic is flashing in rows;
Then grunts and goes in, with a slam and flick
To beat real iron out, to work the bellows.
–Seamus Heaney, 1969

2 thoughts on “Vi et Virtute

  1. Caro Its been so good to see you have a horse and hear a bit about him. I very much hope that progress goes smoothly or as smoothly as anything can go when it is to do with horses. How is your route and the process of sorting out accommodation etc going? Good luck! William

    • Good to hear from you William! I am going up to the Peak District next week for a navigation course to brush up on my map reading and GPS skills. I will take the opportunity to visit some of the areas I shall be going through and hopefully meet a few key people involved with local bridleways as well and tap into the knowledge of the local BHS people. Meanwhile, Tommy’s training is going really well. x

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