David John Nicholls: RSS, AWCF, RJF, LSHMC, CNBBT, CNBF, CLS, CE, CI

From the age of 7, David Nicholls knew he would one day become a farrier.  In 1968 David started his farrier 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 (This exam has now been replaced by the Dip WCF Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers). Howard taught David how to make shoes and shoe horses in the time honored way that had been handed down through centuries. However, once David had qualified he became disillusioned with the horseshoeing industry and left it for several years to join the London Fire Brigade. In 1978 David decided to leave the London Fire Brigade and head back to where his heart had always been, as a farrier.

David worked as a contract farrier for Robert Botting AFCL until 1980 when he left and started work from his own forge. After being on his own for several years, David started training for the next exam in farriery (The Associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers) which he passed in 1986. This heralded a change in the way he approached farriery. He realized there was a whole new world of work he had not realized 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 helped David tremendously and passed on all he knew about laminitis and its management at that time.

The most profound change arrived in David’s life when he met with Gene Ovnicek RMF. 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 realizes the unnatural environment we keep our domestic horses in and has formulated ways of minimizing the adverse effects of domestication.

In 1993, David, Mark Spriggs, Mike Williams and Mark Hobby, started a farrier supply business in West Sussex called Total Foot Protection Ltd.  Mark Hobby has since left the business, however David, Mark Spriggs and Mike Williams still continue as owners.  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 firsthand 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 and horse owners in the treatment of lameness and foot related problems.

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.

In May 2006 and again in May 2007 David achieved the highest honor the industry could bestow on him by passing the Certified Lameness Specialist exam, not once but twice!

David runs a successful farriery practice “Natural Balance Hoof Care Ltd” and is the Technical Director of Total Foot Protection Ltd. “The Farriery Practice” is a part of that company and incorporates a group practice of farriers which works within the area around Slinfold. 

"Dedicated to providing horse owners, trainers, farriers and veterinarians with information and education to treat and ultimately prevent lameness in horses..."

Horses have featured throughout the whole of David’s life. Both he and his wife Trisha enjoy their own equine friends keeping them at their livery yard in the South Downs National Park.