The Dutch farrier Douwe Dokter with a Frisian Horse

“Becoming a farmer is not the right thing for you Douwe”, so his father told him when he was 16. “Why don’t you become a farrier instead?” Douwe took his dad’s advice and went for it. He became an apprentice with Tinus Staving, who had faith in Douwe’s capabilities. And Tinus made sure I passed the exam to get in as a farrier student, even though I wasn’t capable of doing anything with the hoof at that point!  

Douwe’s dad was breeding KWPN horses so Douwe grew up around horses and became a good rider, in dressage but mostly jumping.

if I had the possibility to do it all over again, I would become a farrier again

“I really enjoy being a farrier and to be honest, if I had the possibility to do it all over again, I would become a farrier again”, says Douwe. The only thing I would do differently would be to follow my education in the UK. Unfortunately there is a big difference in the education in the UK on the one side and the rest of Europe on the other side. Compared to the UK the education in the Netherlands is for beginners and you only learn how to shoe really in practise.

The Dutch farrier Douwe Dokter shoeing a horse

In the UK the profession ‘farrier’ has a rich tradition and is very valued, also by horse owners. The farrier has a similar status to the vet and rightly so, being seen as a real specialist. This is not always the case in the Netherlands. The fact that everyone in the Netherlands is allowed to call themselves a farrier and start their own business, education or not, does not help. But I do see that, especially over the last decade, the level of European farriers is moving up and towards each other in their ways of thinking. The reason for this: loads of clinics that you can attend, often initialised by Mustad; clinics with for example Grant Moon, which truly try to help the farriers to improve their skills, and the social media. We share so much more now with each other. We are only a small group of professionals, that can and should help each other every time to improve. It is obvious that Douwe has a true passion for shoeing. There is something else Douwe is passionate about; motor cycles!

A forge with Mustad horseshoes in the workshop of Douwe Dokter

For years Douwe travelled on a regular basis to the USA to look for some great motorcycles to buy like Harley Davidson, import them into the Netherlands and sell them to collectors or real Harley Davidson lovers. The travelling, looking for the best motor cycles and making the buyers happy was very rewarding. Due to currency changes and the fact that I was getting busier with shoeing, it was not really worth it to travel up and down every time. But the passion for motor cycles is still there

I like to travel together with one or more of my forging friends

Travelling is something I still do on a regular basis, but now to join international forging competitions. Just to mention a few countries I’ve been to compete in: Canada, USA, Denmark, Sweden, UK, Germany, and Switzerland. I like to travel together with one or more of my forging friends. I love the competition element, the atmosphere and the fact that you always learn something new from each other!

The Dutch farrier Douwe Dokter in his workshop

In fact we are only a small specialist group, so it is a beautiful thing if knowledge gets shared amongst farriers. I always strive to deliver the best shoeing for every horse, from international dressage horse to leisure cuddling horse, from a Shetland pony to a big Frisian horse, I treat them all the same!

Mustad LiBero shoes prepared for shoeing a Frisian Horse by Douwe Dokter

Keep it simple, make sure that your basic shoeing is good

My advice: Keep it simple, make sure that your basic shoeing is good. To achieve that, I really enjoy working with Mustad LiBero and the Mustad Equi-Librium shoe. In combination with preferably the Mustad Endura Concave nails I can practically shoe every horse!

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