UK farriers on top of the world

  • British farriers have dominated this year’s world championship in Calgary, Canada, nailing the top three places in a field of 80 competitors.

    Welshman James Blurton, 47, became 2005 world champion farrier last month, pocketing US$10,000 in prize-money and a bronze trophy. Yorkshire’s Steve Beane was placed second and fellow Welshman, Billy Crothers, himself a four-time world champion, ranked third at the Calgary Stampede event.

    Blurton’s victory in the four-day competition, which included 6hr of forging and shoeing, also meant the world title remained in the UK. Last year’s winner was Darren Bazin, from Northants.

    “I’m not sure what to do now — maybe I’ll call it a day,” Blurton said on the likelihood of defending the title. “It’s taken a lot of time out of my life, and the older I get the harder it gets.”

    Blurton now turns his attention to training for the International Farriery Competitions at Stoneleigh Park (27-28 August), run by the National Association of Farriers, Blacksmiths and Agricultural Engineers (NAFBAE).

    NAFBAE national organiser Louise Scrannage said the clean sweep by Blurton, Beane and Crothers was a fitting precursor to the international competition, now in its 26th year, which offers trophies in place of prize money.

    “They are all excellent ambassadors for the trade,” said Scrannage. “It’s wonderful that we will have the world’s best competing on home soil.”

    Farriers Registration Council registrar Miles Williamson-Noble joined the celebration, pointing out the UK’s dominance at the world championship reflected well on the nation’s craft and training standards.

    This opinion was shared by Blurton, who registered as a farrier in 1979 and currently has four apprentices under his wing at Forden Farriers Ltd. Blurton also paid credit to his coach in forging, Richard Ellis.

    Blurton will be judging at an inaugural competition under the banner of Crothers’ company, Handmade Shoes Shoemaking Competition (23 July) in Crafton, Bedfordshire, where more than £5,000 will be offered in prizes.

  • Another inaugural event, Oatridge College Farriery Challenge (24-25 September) will be held in West Lothian, Scotland, with a £2,000 prize pot.
  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (21 July, ’05)

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