Jockey Club farriers make all the running in creative stakes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 November, 2010, 12:00am

The Jockey Club's farriers have been putting their creative talents to the test, fashioning artwork from metal that once pounded the racecourses as horseshoes.

The farriers took time off from attending to hoofwear to take part in a competition organised by the club.

There are about 1,600 horses at the club, and each needs four shoes a month. The cast-off shoes usually go to metal traders, but this year some of them found a new lease of life.

Thirteen farriers and apprentices battled it out in a competitive field.

'We wanted to see their artistic side,' head farrier Paul Cumming said.

Lo Sing-yan, who has just qualified after a four-year apprenticeship, won first prize with a rose fashioned from metal flakes.

The judges said they were impressed that 'something as hard as metal could be made into a soft rose'.

Lo said he learned how to do it from a YouTube video. 'Thin slices of metal were used to make the rose in the video, but I had to hammer the horseshoes to make them thinner,' the 37-year-old said. 'I spent more than a month on the rose, making each petal separately and putting them back together using fire.'

Runner-up Ng Wai-kin, 26, used six horseshoes to make a crab. He made the shell from an intact horseshoe and made each leg by cutting a horseshoe in half. 'I wanted to retain the shape of a horseshoe because it's the symbol of a farrier,' he said.

Second runner-up Yiu Chung-hong split horseshoes into curves which were then recombined to make a coral-shaped container holding a handmade hammer. Other contestants made snakes, toys and a centipede.

Cumming said that just as people have different shoe sizes, so do horses. Local farriers do not make their own horseshoes but have to resize imported ones to fit individual horses. The farriers said the competition helped them to improve their skills for such work.

The club has no plans to display the artwork to the public.