Deep in the rural Hertfordshire countryside, farrier and artist team Barry and Faye from Horseshoe Hearts run their hand forged gifts and homeware business. Both being dedicated horse owners and lovers of all things equine together with their passion for wildlife and the countryside, has led to their creative and resourceful business reusing used horseshoes. Their stunning designs using artistic flair and traditional forged skills make lovely and thoughtful gifts for any occasion.
Samantha Hobden caught up with Barry and Faye from Horseshoe Hearts recently in Haynet’s Chatting A Bit series to find out more about the couple behind this super rural business:
Tell us about where your equestrian passion has come from? Has it been with you both all your life?
Faye – for me I have no idea where it came from. No one in my family is horsey at all. My mum tells me I used to watch horse racing on tv and just stare and stare at the horses. My parents finally relented when I was 7 and took me for my first riding lesson. It was on a pony called Little Merlin and I even did a bit of rising trot. I remember bursting with pride when the instructor told me I must be a natural!
Barry – I’ve been around horses all my life. I’m told when I was a baby in my pram in the garden, one of our ponies would graze happily alongside me so long as I was gurgling and moving, if I went silent the pony would come over and nudge and nuzzle me until I made a noise again, then she would go back to grazing. Both my parents owned horses and my dad was a farrier and so I followed in his footsteps.
Tell us about your farrier career Barry? Did you always want to have a career in this line of work?
No, definitely not always! I removed my first shoe when I was 6 years old. I went out a lot with my dad to help him when he was working but didn’t like the hands-on aspect with horses until I was 14/15! Farriery is physically hard work and until then I don’t think I was strong enough and I used to hate it. As I matured it became easier to do and I began to enjoy working with the horses. On leaving school I went straight to farriery college, studied for four years and obtained my Diploma at the end of it, becoming a qualified, registered farrier. Sadly, my father passed away 6 months before the end of my course and so never got to see me qualify.
Your passion for art shines through Faye. What areas of the art world do you love?
Ohhh that’s a toughie! I began as a child just drawing horses, native ponies, Arabs, horses and riders seen in Horse & Pony magazine that I got every week. As a teenager, I loved the romanticism and old-fashioned chivalry of the Pre-Raphaelite artists but was distinctly guided more towards the Impressionists while studying for my Fine Art A Level. Degas & Cezanne were often a main focus and to be sure their painting of light and colour (and my art tutors voice in my head!) has never stopped amazing me. A secret love of my own is Alphonse Mucha, his depictions of women particularly inspired me to create my own jewellery for a time, headdresses and flowers – simply lovely!
When did you decide to combine your creative flair into horseshoe gifts?
Faye – Ohhh quite recently really. About 3 years ago Barry made me a heart and a hoof pick from a horseshoe and I thought they were simply wonderful. I love the aspect of upcycling and repurposing something with a history into something new. They just really appealed to me.
Barry – I’ve always been making things.
Faye – A mess!
Barry – Haha Yes I’m not the tidiest! But I’d always experimented with making things from old rasps and old shoes just to see if I could. I’d never thought anything much of them but Faye was so pleased with hers she began showing them about and friends started asking me to forge things from their own shoes.
Faye – So it ticked over that way for a while but it wasn’t until this year that we really started investing some real time and energy into Horseshoe Hearts. It’s just amazing how much it has developed over this year.
What have been the challenges of creating this aspect into a business? What have been the highs and lows?
Faye – When we’ve done all we can to get an item made and dispatched on time and then there is an issue with the courier and so it’s delayed or lost. That always upsets me. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s generally when something was needed to a deadline and I just hate to have disappointed customers. I’d hand deliver all our orders if I could just to know they arrive safely!
Barry – This year we had an anonymous complaint about the noise of the hammering on the anvil. That was a crushing low. That was a difficult 24 hrs, but we decided we weren’t giving up and, truth be told, a lot of forging work this year has been done at the yards I shoe in, by kind permission of the yard owners which we are super grateful for. We’ve just found new premises to do the forging work in which we really help us increase our productivity.
Both – Oh and when people copy our work… that’s low. Enough said about that!
Both – The overwhelming high, has to be a happy customer! Every time we get lovely feedback and repeat orders, that is just thrilling. We are so grateful to all our customers, encouragers and supporters. It is so special to create something for a client whose horse has passed. Being told how thrilled they are with a keepsake of their precious friend never fails to give meaning to all we do. Also seeing our products in Your Horse Magazine was an incredible moment – I used to read that magazine when I was I younger! Having our beautiful logo designed and having our very own website built was also a huge moment – it’s been quite a year!!
Faye – Definitely. I’ve shed tears at some of the messages that arrive with some sets of shoes. There is so much love for our equine friends that we get to hear about and be a part of. It’s quite humbling.
Barry – Oh and shipping our products out beyond the UK! That’s a real “pinch me moment” for me. We have sent our products to Australia, America, Sweden, France, Germany, Lithuania and Croatia.. to name a few! That’s crazy!
What are your future plans for the Horseshoe Hearts?
To learn more. To be better. More efficient. We would love to crossover into Country Life as well as being an Equestrian brand. We have a couple of unique ideas that we hope to put into being in 2019 but we can’t tell you what they are 😉
Are you interested in equestrian sport? Which is your favourite genre to follow?
Faye – Ohh.. a lifelong go-to has to have been Showjumping, I religiously watched John Whitaker and Nick Skelton and co as a child. Now I probably follow quite a few eventing bloggers, if only to be in awe! Oh goodness and Mary King and Mark Todd. They are both just fabulous! Honestly though, I orientate more to matters of equine welfare and I follow a lot of horse charities. I’d love to think that one day Horseshoe Hearts can be established enough to provide support to one of the many well deserving equine charities.
Barry – If anything a bit of showjumping now and then for me too. I tend to spend any free time following other farriers and blacksmiths and watching their videos. There is always so much to learn, either creatively or from a shoeing aspect. Different methods of shoeing laminitic equines particularly interests me.
If you hadn’t had travelled down the equestrian themed career path, what would have been your Plan B?
Faye – A vet! I always wanted to be a large animal vet! Life had other plans. Perhaps it was the watching of James Herriot that did it!
Barry – I truly don’t know. Definitely something that involved being outdoors and with animals!
On a day off, where would we find you both?
Both – What’s a day off?!
Where do you hope to be in ten years time?
To be established, be a go-to Equestrian and Country brand and hopefully having our own little patch of rural land somewhere with a forge next to home |Perhaps a little Horseshoe Hearts shop and café selling homemade seasonal goods with fields of rescue ponies, natives and Arabs and perhaps some kind of equine therapy set up too… that sounds good!
Against the Clock
Schoolmasters or Youngsters: Faye – Schoolmasters Barry – Youngsters
Champagne or Gin: Faye – Gin Barry – Gin
Sunshine or Snow: Faye – Sunshine Barry – Sunshine
Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Faye– Home Counties Barry – Home Counties
Home Cooked or Eating Out: Faye – Eating Out Barry – Eating Out
Spend or Save: Faye – Ohhh gosh I wish it was save but it will be Spend! Barry – always seems to be spend!
Music or Film: Faye – Music (unless it’s Harry Potter then film!) Barry – Music
Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Faye – Neither! A bunch of native ponies and an old Landie please! Barry – Neither!
Huge thanks to Barry and Faye. Please come and find them at Horseshoe Hearts