It’s no secret that competitions are a great way for farriers to improve their talents and efficiency at the anvil. Yet, there is another asset that can be potentially valuable for younger shoers.

Tucumcari, N.M., farrier Jim Keith knows a thing or two about competitions. “Building a rep” at shoeing and blacksmithing competitions around the United States opened doors for Keith to speak at clinics all over North America, the Caribbean, Brazil and Japan. Of course, placing in the top 10 at international competitions in four different decades helps, too. Oh yeah, Keith also was in the second class enshrined into the International Horseshoers Hall Of Fame at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Ky.

“If you place well at contests and develop a reputation among horse people as somebody who can solve a few problems here and there, and can provide answers and knowing the why, is probably a big part of being invited to speak at clinics,” Keith says.

It takes some time, though.

“You know, word spreads,” he says. “It’s not an overnight thing. It takes years. As I got to see other clinicians at work, I just kind of gravitated to that area. As your fame spreads, you get invited farther away from home.”

When scheduling clinicians for his clinics, Keith often turned his attention to a specific demographic.

“When we had clinics, I always tried to get an up and coming farrier,” Keith says. “I thought they had some valuable new insights into what we were doing in horseshoeing.”

So, go forth young farriers. Toss your hat into the ring and improve your techniques with the hammer and anvil. You might be surprised where it takes you.