Sunday, July 10, 2011

Calgary Stampede: Farriers at the World Champion Blacksmiths Competition

They call it the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. There's no event quite like Canada's Calgary Stampede, held each July in Calgary, Alberta. It's the world's biggest rodeo melded into the world's biggest country fair and a world cultural fair, to boot. You can learn a lot, or just have fun. It has to be one of the world's largest volunteer-run events of any kind. The World Championship Blacksmiths Competition for farriers has been held at the Stampede for more than 30 years.

NOTE: On Sunday, July 10, the farrier competition will be livestreamed on The Hoof Blog. Watch the WCBC farrier events live on video. (Sorry about the ads, the stream providers just do that.)

Video clip assembled yesterday, shot during the two-man farrier competition.


Open-hearth coal fires blaze at Canada's Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta.


The World Championship Blacksmiths Competition (WCBC) has attracted individual farriers and some national teams from England, Denmark, New Zealand, Scotland, Australia, Ireland, Norway, France, Wales, Belgium, Northern Ireland, South Africa, the United States, and Canada.


Competing for more than $50,000 in cash and prizes, the winning farrier receives a $10,000 check, a limited-edition bronze trophy, a Stampede hand-tooled buckle, and a champion’s jacket.


Steven Beane of England entered this year’s competition seeking his third straight Stampede title. Last July, Beane, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire, became the WCBC’s first back-to-back champion since Billy Crothers of Wales notched his second and third Calgary crowns in 1995 and 1996.


This year, WCBC organizers are also placing special emphasis on the four-man team championship, with the winning squad splitting a $10,000 pot. The competition’s forging and shoeing champs will each earn $1,000, as will the top rookie. The farrier competition begins before the Stampede does, with an educational clinic for the farriers.

Here's a quick video introduction to the agricultural side of the Stampede, including scenes from the farrier competition. Notice the spectator children touching the baby pigs and kissing a horse on the nose. Calgary still allows old-fashioned, unsanitary behavior like that. Long may they!

Wash Time

The Stampede has a terrific heavy horse show in addition to the rodeo.

Bareback Up Close

People from all over the world flock to Calgary each year to see the rodeo, but there's a  lot more to see at the Stampede.


If I ever saw an event that would have me strapping on a helmet and a body protector, the chuckwagon races would be it. I always thought it should be called the suicide runaway races. The Stampede beefed up its equine welfare program this year by implanting microchips in the horses to keep track of how often they race. Each horse is only allowed to race four days in a row, one race a day. Sadly, one horse has broken a leg and had to be destroyed. Two people have been killed in the races in the past 25 years.

Tiny Dancer

The assembly of Native American nations at the Stampede makes it a world cultural event like no other.

Show Time

I think the thing I like best about Calgary is that everyone in the city seems to be involved and they act like they are having a good time, even if they only wear a cowboy hat once a year! It's one of the best cultural mashups on the planet, as this string section illustrates.

Will and Kate

The celebrity factor went a little off the charts this year when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge decided to stop by. The farriers were disappointed that they didn't come by the competition.

Stampede Photos by Mike Ringwood and Chris Bolin.

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