Farm Ireland got a behind-the-scenes look at the Irish Master Farriers’ Association (IMFA) team’s preparation for the European Farrier Championships.

James Woods of Limerick, Paul Duddy of Tyrone, Sam Brennan of Limerick and Eddie Channon of Newbridge make up this year’s team. They gather at the Irish School of Farriery in Kildare, Ireland, to sharpen their skills and improve their speed. 

The team of four represents the IMFA, which has more than 140 members. Kildare master farrier John McLoughlin is their manager. He predicts that the team will take home prizes and potentially come out on top.

At the championship, the competitors will have to make specific shoes to compete in four classes. For the last part of the competition, the team will need to make two shoes and put one of them on a horse — all in 60 minutes.

“You have to combine top class work with efficiency and speed,” McLoughlin says.

As for strategy, the IMFA works to uphold traditional forging skills, even as the popularity of factory-produced shoes rises. Members maintain this by regularly making custom shoes for their clients.

The closer it gets to the competition, the more the team will train together.

This year’s championship will be from June 22-23 in Aarberg, Switzerland.

Fifteen other teams from throughout Europe will compete. North American farriers Chad Chance of Pilot Point, Texas, and Iain Ritchie of Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, Canada, will be the judges.

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