Blacksmiths compete for National Championship at NWSS | TheFencePost.com

Blacksmiths compete for National Championship at NWSS

Tony BruguiereThe striker (right) swings the heavy sledge for the farrier. In a two man team, only the farrier is allowed to handle the shoe, the horse and the nails.

Top farriers from around the country gathered at the 2010 National Western Stock Show to compete for the coveted national championship blacksmith title. Although this was a timed event in that there was a time limit for each of the rounds, this was not a speed contest. This was a down-to-basics, make a horseshoe out of a 3/8- by 3/4-inch square length of steel bar stock, and, in the opinion of the judges, best work wins the round.

After five events throughout the year and spread across the U.S., contestants gathered in Denver, Colo., for the three-day national finals. On the first day the contestant teams with a striker for a 60 minute event where they make a pair of heavy shoes. The striker, who is also a part of the final day of competition, operates the fire and uses the big 7- to 10-pound sledge for the farrier. The striker is essentially a “tool” for the competitor. He can strike and rasp the shoe but he can not touch the horse or do any trimming or nailing. The striker is there to help but does not get any of the score. Outside of competition, the striker is usually an apprentice, but at this level of competition, the striker is usually a professional farrier.

During the second day of competition, the farrier will compete without the striker. He will be on his own and make two shoes of different types during the 60-minute event.

Everything comes together during the final event held on the third day. The top 40 from the previous two days events compete in the shoeing event. As competitor John Kern from Charlottesville, Va., explains the shoeing competition, “There are 40 guys, 10 anvils, and four rounds, so each guy gets one foot. It is a 70-minute round to hand make and attach a shoe on final shoeing day. Trim is judged separately, the quality and fit of the shoe is judged separately, and then the over all finished shoe job is judged.”

Horses are a very important part of the competition. It is important that they all have a mellow, even-tempered disposition, and be used to being shod, so as to not give any team a disadvantage. There is probably no place in this area better to find this type horse than the Sombrero Ranches. Brian “Kansas” Seck, manager of the Sombrero Ranches owned Estes Park Stable provided 12 horses for the national championship blacksmith competition. In order not to tire the horses, a different foot was used during each round of the event.

The competitors have to trim and measure the horse’s foot and determine the length of 3/8-by 3/4-inch steel bar stock that is required. They cut that length off and make the shoe to fit specifically on the horse they have drawn.

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Once they have the measurements, it is into the 3,000-degree coke fire. When the bar stock is red hot, the blacksmith and the striker shape it on the anvil, make the fullered groove and punch the nail holes. The shoe has a specific width that it must be, and that size is achieved by pounding the hot and malleable shoe into a notched block on the anvil.

Once the finished shoe is fitted and nailed to the hoof, the team starts on a required specimen shoe. This shoe does not go on the horse, but is a specific type and dimension and is critically judged.

There are some impressive buckles and other prizes given to the winner, but as with any contest in which professionals are involved, there is usually a monetary prize and first place has prize money of $10,000. The important contribution of the striker is not forgotten and the Striker of the Year gets a Stonewell truck body designed specifically for farriers and worth over $10,000.

This was the first year at the NWSS for the blacksmith national championships, but I expect they will be back next year. It is fun and educational to watch and there are plenty of friendly blacksmiths eager to explain the fine points of their profession to you.

Top farriers from around the country gathered at the 2010 National Western Stock Show to compete for the coveted national championship blacksmith title. Although this was a timed event in that there was a time limit for each of the rounds, this was not a speed contest. This was a down-to-basics, make a horseshoe out of a 3/8- by 3/4-inch square length of steel bar stock, and, in the opinion of the judges, best work wins the round.

After five events throughout the year and spread across the U.S., contestants gathered in Denver, Colo., for the three-day national finals. On the first day the contestant teams with a striker for a 60 minute event where they make a pair of heavy shoes. The striker, who is also a part of the final day of competition, operates the fire and uses the big 7- to 10-pound sledge for the farrier. The striker is essentially a “tool” for the competitor. He can strike and rasp the shoe but he can not touch the horse or do any trimming or nailing. The striker is there to help but does not get any of the score. Outside of competition, the striker is usually an apprentice, but at this level of competition, the striker is usually a professional farrier.

During the second day of competition, the farrier will compete without the striker. He will be on his own and make two shoes of different types during the 60-minute event.

Everything comes together during the final event held on the third day. The top 40 from the previous two days events compete in the shoeing event. As competitor John Kern from Charlottesville, Va., explains the shoeing competition, “There are 40 guys, 10 anvils, and four rounds, so each guy gets one foot. It is a 70-minute round to hand make and attach a shoe on final shoeing day. Trim is judged separately, the quality and fit of the shoe is judged separately, and then the over all finished shoe job is judged.”

Horses are a very important part of the competition. It is important that they all have a mellow, even-tempered disposition, and be used to being shod, so as to not give any team a disadvantage. There is probably no place in this area better to find this type horse than the Sombrero Ranches. Brian “Kansas” Seck, manager of the Sombrero Ranches owned Estes Park Stable provided 12 horses for the national championship blacksmith competition. In order not to tire the horses, a different foot was used during each round of the event.

The competitors have to trim and measure the horse’s foot and determine the length of 3/8-by 3/4-inch steel bar stock that is required. They cut that length off and make the shoe to fit specifically on the horse they have drawn.

Once they have the measurements, it is into the 3,000-degree coke fire. When the bar stock is red hot, the blacksmith and the striker shape it on the anvil, make the fullered groove and punch the nail holes. The shoe has a specific width that it must be, and that size is achieved by pounding the hot and malleable shoe into a notched block on the anvil.

Once the finished shoe is fitted and nailed to the hoof, the team starts on a required specimen shoe. This shoe does not go on the horse, but is a specific type and dimension and is critically judged.

There are some impressive buckles and other prizes given to the winner, but as with any contest in which professionals are involved, there is usually a monetary prize and first place has prize money of $10,000. The important contribution of the striker is not forgotten and the Striker of the Year gets a Stonewell truck body designed specifically for farriers and worth over $10,000.

This was the first year at the NWSS for the blacksmith national championships, but I expect they will be back next year. It is fun and educational to watch and there are plenty of friendly blacksmiths eager to explain the fine points of their profession to you.

Top farriers from around the country gathered at the 2010 National Western Stock Show to compete for the coveted national championship blacksmith title. Although this was a timed event in that there was a time limit for each of the rounds, this was not a speed contest. This was a down-to-basics, make a horseshoe out of a 3/8- by 3/4-inch square length of steel bar stock, and, in the opinion of the judges, best work wins the round.

After five events throughout the year and spread across the U.S., contestants gathered in Denver, Colo., for the three-day national finals. On the first day the contestant teams with a striker for a 60 minute event where they make a pair of heavy shoes. The striker, who is also a part of the final day of competition, operates the fire and uses the big 7- to 10-pound sledge for the farrier. The striker is essentially a “tool” for the competitor. He can strike and rasp the shoe but he can not touch the horse or do any trimming or nailing. The striker is there to help but does not get any of the score. Outside of competition, the striker is usually an apprentice, but at this level of competition, the striker is usually a professional farrier.

During the second day of competition, the farrier will compete without the striker. He will be on his own and make two shoes of different types during the 60-minute event.

Everything comes together during the final event held on the third day. The top 40 from the previous two days events compete in the shoeing event. As competitor John Kern from Charlottesville, Va., explains the shoeing competition, “There are 40 guys, 10 anvils, and four rounds, so each guy gets one foot. It is a 70-minute round to hand make and attach a shoe on final shoeing day. Trim is judged separately, the quality and fit of the shoe is judged separately, and then the over all finished shoe job is judged.”

Horses are a very important part of the competition. It is important that they all have a mellow, even-tempered disposition, and be used to being shod, so as to not give any team a disadvantage. There is probably no place in this area better to find this type horse than the Sombrero Ranches. Brian “Kansas” Seck, manager of the Sombrero Ranches owned Estes Park Stable provided 12 horses for the national championship blacksmith competition. In order not to tire the horses, a different foot was used during each round of the event.

The competitors have to trim and measure the horse’s foot and determine the length of 3/8-by 3/4-inch steel bar stock that is required. They cut that length off and make the shoe to fit specifically on the horse they have drawn.

Once they have the measurements, it is into the 3,000-degree coke fire. When the bar stock is red hot, the blacksmith and the striker shape it on the anvil, make the fullered groove and punch the nail holes. The shoe has a specific width that it must be, and that size is achieved by pounding the hot and malleable shoe into a notched block on the anvil.

Once the finished shoe is fitted and nailed to the hoof, the team starts on a required specimen shoe. This shoe does not go on the horse, but is a specific type and dimension and is critically judged.

There are some impressive buckles and other prizes given to the winner, but as with any contest in which professionals are involved, there is usually a monetary prize and first place has prize money of $10,000. The important contribution of the striker is not forgotten and the Striker of the Year gets a Stonewell truck body designed specifically for farriers and worth over $10,000.

This was the first year at the NWSS for the blacksmith national championships, but I expect they will be back next year. It is fun and educational to watch and there are plenty of friendly blacksmiths eager to explain the fine points of their profession to you.

Top farriers from around the country gathered at the 2010 National Western Stock Show to compete for the coveted national championship blacksmith title. Although this was a timed event in that there was a time limit for each of the rounds, this was not a speed contest. This was a down-to-basics, make a horseshoe out of a 3/8- by 3/4-inch square length of steel bar stock, and, in the opinion of the judges, best work wins the round.

After five events throughout the year and spread across the U.S., contestants gathered in Denver, Colo., for the three-day national finals. On the first day the contestant teams with a striker for a 60 minute event where they make a pair of heavy shoes. The striker, who is also a part of the final day of competition, operates the fire and uses the big 7- to 10-pound sledge for the farrier. The striker is essentially a “tool” for the competitor. He can strike and rasp the shoe but he can not touch the horse or do any trimming or nailing. The striker is there to help but does not get any of the score. Outside of competition, the striker is usually an apprentice, but at this level of competition, the striker is usually a professional farrier.

During the second day of competition, the farrier will compete without the striker. He will be on his own and make two shoes of different types during the 60-minute event.

Everything comes together during the final event held on the third day. The top 40 from the previous two days events compete in the shoeing event. As competitor John Kern from Charlottesville, Va., explains the shoeing competition, “There are 40 guys, 10 anvils, and four rounds, so each guy gets one foot. It is a 70-minute round to hand make and attach a shoe on final shoeing day. Trim is judged separately, the quality and fit of the shoe is judged separately, and then the over all finished shoe job is judged.”

Horses are a very important part of the competition. It is important that they all have a mellow, even-tempered disposition, and be used to being shod, so as to not give any team a disadvantage. There is probably no place in this area better to find this type horse than the Sombrero Ranches. Brian “Kansas” Seck, manager of the Sombrero Ranches owned Estes Park Stable provided 12 horses for the national championship blacksmith competition. In order not to tire the horses, a different foot was used during each round of the event.

The competitors have to trim and measure the horse’s foot and determine the length of 3/8-by 3/4-inch steel bar stock that is required. They cut that length off and make the shoe to fit specifically on the horse they have drawn.

Once they have the measurements, it is into the 3,000-degree coke fire. When the bar stock is red hot, the blacksmith and the striker shape it on the anvil, make the fullered groove and punch the nail holes. The shoe has a specific width that it must be, and that size is achieved by pounding the hot and malleable shoe into a notched block on the anvil.

Once the finished shoe is fitted and nailed to the hoof, the team starts on a required specimen shoe. This shoe does not go on the horse, but is a specific type and dimension and is critically judged.

There are some impressive buckles and other prizes given to the winner, but as with any contest in which professionals are involved, there is usually a monetary prize and first place has prize money of $10,000. The important contribution of the striker is not forgotten and the Striker of the Year gets a Stonewell truck body designed specifically for farriers and worth over $10,000.

This was the first year at the NWSS for the blacksmith national championships, but I expect they will be back next year. It is fun and educational to watch and there are plenty of friendly blacksmiths eager to explain the fine points of their profession to you.