David John Nicholls

David John Nicholls


David was born in the Weir Hospital in Balham, South London. David started riding when he was five years old and it wasn't until he was seven, that he met his first farrier. Even at that early age he had decided that he too was to become a farrier. David would be the first farrier in his family. All the other members of the family were academics and he was to be the black sheep. David continued to ride until work and family life made it impossible to continue.

In 1968 David started his apprenticeship, with Howard Cooper FWCF Hons, at his forge in Abinger Hammer, near Dorking, Surrey. Howard had a profound effect on David's life and future in farriery. At the end of the four years David spent with Howard he took the Registered Shoeing Smith exam and passed it. (This exam has now been replaced by the Dip WCF Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers). David has a considerable amount to thank Howard for, his understanding of an immature adolescent boy who only wanted to shoe horses. Howard taught him how to make shoes and shoe horses in the time honoured way that had been handed down through centuries. Once David had qualified he became disillusioned with the horseshoeing industry and left to join the London Fire Brigade.

This seemed fun running around the streets of London in a big red truck with two tones blaring and all the lights flashing. After a period in training school he passed out to become a probationary London Fireman. David served one year before passing his probationary exam. David served another three years and passed the qualified fireman's exam. This now meant he was a real London Fireman. There was a serious side and considerable responsibility that went with the job. The camaraderie made it possible to deal with the life and death side of being a fireman. The down side to the job was the boredom and tedium of the daily routine (people locked out of their houses, putting out rubbish fires and pumping out flooded premises, the list is endless) the whole time David was a fireman, he longed to be back in farriery.

In 1978 David decided to leave the London Fire Brigade and head back to where his heart had always been, as a farrier. David's long time friend, Robert Botting AFCL offered him a job working for him as a contract farrier. Robert shared a forge in Shere, Surrey, with the late Les Story. David had known Les from his time at Abinger Hammer, Les had a great amount of experience and taught David to apply common sense to his farriery. David worked for Robert until 1980 when he left and started work from his own forge. I suppose David has never been content to sit back and have an easy ride, so David started training for the next exam in farriery. (The Associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers) David passed this exam in 1986. This heralded a change in the way he approached farriery. He realised there was a whole new world of work he had not realised was there. Veterinary Surgeons had started to become interested in treating lameness rather than just retiring horses, treatment was the new buzz word. The late Burney Chapman featured in David's life teaching him all he knew about laminitis and its management.

David considered he was lucky to meet with Mac Head FWCF, and still to this day admires his professional approach to farriery.

The most profound change arrived in David's life when he met with Gene Ovnicek RJF. This man, through his unique understanding of horse's feet and the way Mother Nature required them to function, changed the way David trimmed and shod horse's feet forever. David now believes he has a better understanding of the requirements of both bare foot horses and shod horses. He realises the unnatural environment we keep our domestic horses in and has formulated ways of minimising the adverse affects of domestication.

In 1993, David, Mark Spriggs, Mike Williams and Mark Hobby, started a farrier supply business in West Sussex. (Total Foot Protection Ltd. UK. Unfortunately, Mark Hobby decided to leave the UK. Mark has made a new life in Canada.

Total Foot Protection Ltd. has continued to grow and is still committed to the supplying only the best tools and horseshoeing requisites. All the directors of TFP Ltd are working farriers and have an in depth knowledge of the products they sell. They are able to offer first hand information to farriers, veterinary surgeons and clients, regarding specialist products.

David is now committed to elevating horses to a higher level of soundness that our domestic equines have not previously been privileged to. His in depth knowledge of foot and limb related problems see David heavily involved in the rehabilitation of horses damaged or diseased hooves. David runs a vet and farrier referral centre in Slinfold, West Sussex in the UK, where he plays an important part in supporting vets farriers, farriers and horse owners in the treatment of lameness and foot related problems.

David uses his knowledge to assist horse owners with their horse's foot problems. In recent years more people have decided to remove the shoes from their horses and work them barefoot. David has a large amount of experience in this area of expertise and is constantly advising horse owners about this subject.

David has spoken and demonstrated his special skills at many of the major farrier and veterinary conferences and symposiums around the world and is busy giving clinics to farriers, vets and horse owners, to impart his knowledge to others.

View some articles published by David


The Farriery Practice would like to thank everyone who attended our clients evening held in March. The evening was based on lower limb anatomy of the horse. It was a great success, filling the forge at Bridge House Equestrian Centre.

Read more...  


Founded in 1990 by Mark Spriggs, Dave Nicholls and Mike Williams The Farriery Practice has grown into a successful Partnership of six Farriers who all strive to provide the best in service and knowledge.

Read more...  


Click here to view images of our team, scenes from our latest events and our practice services in action


To get in contact with The Farriery Practice, or to find out where we are based, please click here to view our contact and address details