Roland’s nags and nails: my first shoe-making competition

  • This blog is sponsored by the PRO FEET range of hoof care products from NAF

    I’ve been an apprentice farrier for 19 weeks now and, this weekend, I competed in my first shoe-making competition.

    We had to make an off-hind shoe from concave steel and a front shoe from plain flat bar in 40 minutes with quarter clips (for the hind) and a toe clip (for the front). The quickest time I had made two shoes in previously was an hour, so to get them done in 40 minutes was going to be a miracle!

    There were 16 of us in the class including 14 second year apprentices and two first year apprentices. I had to put my nerves and fear aside as there was a very good chance of humiliating myself in front of a packed stand of spectators. These included a number of friends and family members, as well as my training farrier Kris Parsons, who had pushed me hard to get to this competition and was expecting a good result.

    Well, I did it. I produced the best pair of shoes I have ever made and inside the time too. I thoroughly enjoyed it and all the while was completely unaware of the crowds and other competitors until the whistle went at the end. Looking up, with sweat pouring off me, I saw my wife and sister standing right next to my anvil. They had sneaked through the barriers and had been inches from me for half of the competition. Had I known they were there, I might well have fallen apart so, perhaps for the first time ever, I’m glad I blanked my wife!

    It was a tremendous experience and I can really see why competing is so addictive. I met many of the senior competitors, who had travelled from across the country and, not only did I learn a lot from them, but again I was struck by their willingness to help and support me in my new career. There is so much more to farriery than one would think, especially when it comes to professional support, courtesy and encouragement from within the industry. Again, I have been reminded that I am part of a profession that has tremendous values and ethics.

    In case you were vaguely interested to know, and I don’t mind telling you anyway, I was joint 9th. A year from now I will still be eligible to compete in the same class as this year so, as long as I dare to ignore my wife for one more time, I’ll hopefully do quite well!

    Until next week,



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