The World Championship Blacksmiths announced Wednesday that competition at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, this fall has been canceled. It’s the most recent addition to a growing list of equine industry events that have been limited or canceled in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
The WCB shared the news in a May 6 Facebook post, noting that “with the enormous amount of planning that has to go into an event like this the timeline for some sort of semblance of normal life was not realistic.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged people across the United States to cancel or postpone events with 50 or more attendees for the foreseeable future in an attempt to contain the fast-moving virus.
The WCB event was scheduled to coincide with the Sept. 9-13 Masters show jumping tournament, which was also canceled. According to a Spruce Meadows press release, “In these times of global uncertainty, the health and well-being of our sponsors and their employees (many of whom have been with us for our entire history), our competitors, officials, volunteers, fans, the media, Spruce Meadows’ staff and the community at large continues to be our top priority."
The economic impact of the cancellation — which was also noted in the press release — is significant, as 560 full time jobs, $45 million in wages and nearly $90 million in tourism related economic activity are attributed to the Spruce Meadows International Show Jumping season.
The last time a WCB champion was crowned in Calgary, Alberta, was 5 years ago. The WCB was excited to partner with Spruce Meadows to bring the event back. WCB President Craig Trnka has previously told AFJ having the blacksmith contest take place simultaneously with the Masters, which is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, was a huge benefit to the competition.
“This is the best of the people who know what we’re doing,” Trnka says. “We have the opportunity to talk about excellence and the gold standard of quality. We have a chance to be a little more practical. We want to explain the actual art of a horseshoeing contest and how it’s good for building skill sets. And in the end, the horse is the beneficiary.”
In the meantime, the WCB noted on its Facebook page that several unanswered questions remain:
• Will the event go on next year?
• Will the judges stay the same?
• Will the shoe list stay the same?
The WCB season has already been impacted by COVID-19. The season opener, which typically takes place during the month of April, was postponed and rescheduled for July 31 – Aug. 2.