Matt Martin, Black Caviar's farrier, returned to NMIT's Epping Campus recently to help out at an industry field day run by the Victorian Master Farriers Association.
Matt has had a long relationship with NMIT, completing a Certificate III in Farriery at the Epping Campus and continuing to send his apprentices to study at the institution. A former Apprentice of the Year, Matt has worked at Peter Moody Stables since completing his apprenticeship in 2008. He has shod Black Caviar, one of his many charges at the stables, for all of her 22 race victories, including her historic win in the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
A love of horses runs in Matt's family, with his great uncle and four cousins all working as farriers, and other family members involved in harness racing. “I love working with horses. To be able to help a lame horse is really satisfying. They can have problems like abscesses, bruising and collapsed heels which can all be fixed through appropriate shoeing.”
Matt has fond memories of his time at NMIT. “It was great. You don't have time to learn everything on-the-job, so it was good to be able to learn all the intricate parts of the trade like shoe and tool making - skills that you might rarely use, but are still important to know.”
Matt explains that farriers are a critical to a stable, with responsibility for maintaining, trimming and shoeing horses' feet. “Horses aren't meant to do the sort of work we get them to do. Farriers help them to do what they need to do. The right shoes can avoid or correct potential problems.”
Race horses are particularly prone to foot problems if not correctly cared for. “Horses can suffer interference [their feet hitting their legs] and disease if not correctly shoed. There are hundreds of different shoes available, I keep about 20 different types at the stables.”
Matt works closely with the trainers to make sure he knows when each horse is due to race. Before each race he swaps their steel work shoes for the lighter aluminium models. The lighter shoes are a safety precaution - in the unlikely event of a shoe coming off during a race it wouldn't have the weight to injure a jockey.
Matt says the job has it challenges with early starts, long hours and physical work. “It's six days a week and every public holiday. The hours are demanding, the stable wants you there every day. It's tough on the new apprentices. There is a lot of bending as well as needing to physically control the horses. A former trainer compared it to running a marathon every day. But your body gets used to it.”
He says Black Caviar is beautiful to work with although “she can get a little stroppy if she has had too much attention from vets, trainers and the media. She likes a bit of quiet.”
Matt currently works with a third year apprentice studying farriery at NMIT. He says when his apprentice qualifies he'll look to pick up a bit of extra work. “I'm really happy where I am working with Peter Moody, Byron Cozamanis and Brendan McCarthy. But with a bit more work I'll be able to employ another apprentice.”
Matt is also kept busy with his duties as a committee member of the Victorian Master Farriers Association which runs events, provides advice and helps apprentices. At the industry field day Matt assisted the association in various capacities, including acting as timekeeper for the Eagle Eye Competition where farriers had 10 seconds to assess a hoof and, based on this brief assessment, make a fitting shoe.
Matt says the industry day was a success. “We had lots of competitors in the various events and lots of enthusiasm too. It gave people who didn't know much about farriery a chance to see what it is about, it also gave working farriers an opportunity to test and improve their skills.”
Read Matt’s story in the popular US equine industry HoofBlog
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Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or email@example.com
NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.
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Interview / Photo Opportunity
Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener.