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Friday, March 16, 2007

Farrier Competition Scene: Change/No Change at the Top

Jill and Kyle Ballard, two of the founders of the fledgling World Championship Blacksmiths competition corporation, have left the new company.

I interviewed Jill today, and as expected, she was upbeat about their decision not to continue with the venture. "We decided to step down as owners," she told me. "It's about spending time with our family. We have two children under the age of three and would like to have more. WCB was a bigger commitment than we can make right now."

Jill, who was Chief Planning and Operations Officer, and her husband Kyle, who was Chief Financial Officer, live outside Ithaca, Nebraska. Kyle is president of the Midwestern Farriers Association and, as such, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Farrier's Association.

Jill left her position as director of education for the American Farrier's Association to concentrate on her role with the WCB. She was optimistic about the future of the WCB's management, which will now be in the hands of Julie Ridley in Iowa. "Julie will do a good job," Jill said, "and I'm sure Kyle will still compete. We'll just be watching from the sidelines."

Meanwhile, Myron McLane, longtime chairman of the Rules Committee of the American Farrier's Association, wants everyone to know that he has not resigned. "The rumor mill has started once again," he notified me by email. "Just in case anyone is interested, I am still chairman of the AFA rules committee. I have not resigned as you may have been told (probably by someone who wishes I did).

"I am also NOT a member of the committee looking into the WCB thing," he continued. "My committee (the AFA Rules Committee) has already looked into it and has given its recommendation to the BOD (Board of Directors). Our job is done."

The "WCB Thing" that Myron refers to is a proposal by the World Championship Blacksmiths LLC to replace the annual AFA competitions with the national finals of WCB's regional competition series. When asked, Myron's committee advised the AFA against making such a change but the Board then appointed its own committee to look at the proposal. The Board had already granted WCB, a for-profit entity, a seat on its Board by making the corporation a "chapter" of the organization. The convention contest proposal is either a hostile takeover attempt or a gift from the hammer gods, depending on whom within the AFA political insider groups one asks.

To see how things can change, or don't change, Jill and Myron were both quoted in my post of June 15.

Photo of Myron McLane courtesy of

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