Farriers puts to focus on tools down his hobbies
A FARRIER and blacksmith by trade, the traditions of yesteryear are alive and well with Des Bosworth of Clifton.
At 68, Des has been plying his craft for more than 50 years, starting out shoeing his own horses at Townsville as a 14-year-old.
Today he has shod thousands of horses and won national prizes for his blacksmithing work, but he is still humble about his achievements.
Des confesses he is not getting any younger, and wants to concentrate on more pleasure and less work nowadays.
"I'm starting to wind back on my work as a farrier, and spend more time on my ironwork and woodwork etc," he said.
"I'm not shoeing young horses any more - I'll let the young fellas wrestle them now."
Des celebrated his birthday yesterday and is in good health now after suffering a heart attack while competing at the Brisbane Royal Show (Ekka) eight years ago.
"The doctor said to me the other day, 'whatever you are doing, keep doing it'," Des said.
"But now I'm just shoeing between 15 and 20 horses each week, mainly around the local area," he said.
However, Des and wife, Beryl, still pack up and head west in February/March each year for their annual tour of outback Queensland stations where Des conducts workshops.
"They are mainly for young station hands to learn how to shoe a horse," he said.
"We head out to Nocatunga Station, Durham Downs, Nappa Merri Station and Innamincka stations and hold the workshops for two days at each property.
"In the last trip, I taught 43 station hands how to shoe a horse, as they all have to be able to shoe their own."
Des and Beryl set off on their first western trip about six years ago when they were asked to conduct a similar workshop for the Thargomindah Polocrosse Club.
"It has just grown from there and each year there is another station that wants me to hold a workshop," Des said.
"It is just word of mouth, and now I do a bit of blacksmithing also and teach the young stockmen and women to make their own hoof picks," he said.
"You can see their confidence levels jump through the roof after they have shod their own horse.
"I love teaching the young people. If you can help pass on your knowledge to someone else it's great."
Des is a self-taught farrier himself, however has expanded his knowledge every chance he gets.
A member of the Australian Farriers and Blacksmiths Association, Des has attended workshops conducted by professionals from England, Wales, Scotland, Canada and the United States over many years.
In 1992, he sat for the test to become a registered farrier, and hasn't looked back since.
When his business was in "full swing", he was shoeing 2000 horses a year, and that was only five years ago.
"I used to shoe between 300 and 350 yearlings leading up to the sales, and once took six days to shoe 84 yearlings before a sale," Des said.
"They were long days - I was gone in the dark and home in the dark," he said.
"It has taken its toll on my body, with a lot of wear and tear."
Des has served as both state and national president of the relevant farriers and blacksmiths associations, and is one of only two honorary life members of both state and national organisations.
He is still heavily involved in a lot of events, either as a competitor or as a steward. He has recently returned from the National Farriers and Blacksmiths Championships held in Tamworth during the June long weekend.
Des worked as a steward this year, but in the past has competed, taking out national titles with his magnificent ironwork, as well as winning seven blacksmithing titles at the Brisbane Ekka.
In recent years, he has turned his hand to a new passion, that of woodwork.
"I still do my ironwork and blacksmithing as well, but I've joined the Warwick Shire Woodcrafters Inc, and I really enjoy working with timber," Des said.
"I can go into the workshop in Warwick seven days a week, and I enjoy the company also," he said.
"One of the main differences between blacksmithing and wood work is that I could make all my own tools for ironwork, but with woodwork I have to buy them."
As well as filling his home with magnificent pieces of handcrafted timber and iron work over the years, Des has also been responsible for the handcrafted timber and iron trophies for the blacksmithing and shoeing competitions at the Ekka for the past four years.
"I also make trophies for the Toowoomba Royal Show, local polocrosse clubs and the Noccundra Rodeo and Campdraft each year," he said.
Des also created 30 iron cowboy ornaments out of old horseshoes to mark the 100 year reunion of the Kidman Cattle Company three years ago.
"Each one held one of the Kidman station brands, and they were auctioned off to raise money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service," he said.
Des believes he is yet to create the perfect piece and is always looking for a challenge in his creations.
"I like to work with any type of wood that I can get my hands on, but love the Australian timbers as they have great colours.
"However, they are harder timbers and are tough on my machines," he said.
His workshop is a sight to behold, adorned with blacksmithing tools and a collection of more than 200 axes dating back to the 1800s.
Des is pleased that there has been a resurgence in the art of blacksmithing in recent years, and he hopes to continue to share his knowledge with the younger generation to ensure the craft is not lost in the fast-paced life we lead.