Thursday, February 28, 2008

Farrier Convention Update: Competition Alive with New Faces

Farrier competition at Peterborough, England's Shire Horse Show painted by Michael Murfin graces the cover of out 2008 AFA Survival Guide. Everyone thinks it's a photo, but it's a painting!

My energy is fading after standing up for six hours in our booth at the trade show, but the American Farrier's Association today made some history that I thought I would share.

A big part of this convention is the forging and shoeing competition, which this year is being held at a remote location in the big arena at the Kentucky Horse Park, while the convention lectures and trade show are in downtown Lexington.

But you can almost hear the hammers across the miles.

Some joyous faces stopped at my booth tonight to say hello. Today was the preliminary forging (horseshoe making, no horses), which count towards a farrier's qualification (or disqualification) from the "live" shoeing finals tomorrow.

The happy faces belonged to supporters of the Japanese team. For the first time, two Japanese farriers made it to the finals. Also in the finals: two women (congratulations, Raleigh and Sarah!), one American and one Scottish. There is at least one British male in there too. There were lots of new names and faces on the list, which is encouraging.

Competition chairman Myron McLane also told me tonight that the contest went very well and he is looking forward to tomorrow. Sadly, one of the USA's top competitors, former World Champion Austin Edens of Texas, had to scratch today because of a back injury, but said he hopes to compete in just the draft horse class tomorrow.

The convention is an international event even moreso than usual this year. I saw a European plastic shoe company's booth located next to an Amish booth and wondered, as always, about the way that this event brings people from diverse backgrounds under one roof.

A special highlight last night comes to mind. How many conventions have a "jam session" night? So many musicians showed up to play that they didn't even all fit on the ballroom stage. And many of them were superb musicians. There's no group quite like farriers!