Maybe it was my head cold, but it seemed like a tableau off the wall of a British art gallery. I had just finished selecting a series of Murfin paintings for the next issue of Hoofcare and Lameness; they depict the sights and sweats of the Shire Horse Show shoeing competition held in Peterborough, England each March.
On Friday, the paintings seemd to come alive right in front of me when the World Championship Blacksmiths Competition passed through western Massachusetts; they pitched their big yellow tent at our regional all-breed, all-sport horse fair, Equine Affaire. I was able to drop in for a few minute minutes between sniffles and sneezes.
Both the name recognition factor of the competitors and the geography represented were impressive. Also impressive was the lineup of farriers on the spectator side of the "caution" tape line, the announcer (New Mexico farrier and WCB front man Craig Trnka) and the judge, Billy Crothers of Wales.
Probably my favorite part was the blasting music. Who couldn't smile when you walk up to a big yellow tent full of blazing coal forges and hear Johnny Cash singing "Ring of Fire"? Maybe it was my cold medicine, but I swear the hammers were swinging to the beat.
My heart skipped a beat a little as I looked around and saw what was missing. My late great friend, New York farrier (and tireless competitor) Vern Hornquist, would have been front and center in a very big way at this event. Vern, as many of you know, died a few years ago.
Note: World Championship Blacksmiths is a private corporation producing regional forging competitions around the USA. I believe this was their fourth event, leading up to a national championship to be held in Tampa, Florida in February. Anyone wishing to compete may join the organization and admission seemed to be free for spectators.
About the paintings: These Murfin images are posted for viewing on this blog only. You may double click on the image to see a larger version. You can see more from this series in the next issue of Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. No downloading or reproduction of these images without permission of Hoofcare Publishing and the artist. They are protected by both British and American copyright.