Calgary — It is said that sometimes you have to lose a championship to win one.
This year was the 35th anniversary of the WCBC in Calgary and it attracted a stellar group of 59 of the world’s best farriers.
“The best part is that they represented 15 countries,” says Erik Swanby of the Stampede Blacksmith Committee.
With much of the competition taking place just outside the Agrium Western Event Centre, Swanby says, the hard-working blacksmiths drew considerable interest from Stampede visitors.
“They heard the noise, went to find out what the noise was and stayed and watched,” he says.
This year there was no team concept. Everyone competed as an individual. Another change was in the format.
“We had some shoeing classes running at the same time as some forging classes,” Swanby says. “We’d have 10 guys building shoes and 10 guys shoeing horses.”
The action began July 3 with Sneak-a-Peek, which involved three classes designed to exhibit how fast competitors could build a shoe. On July 4-5, competitors built a variety of specialty shoes within a set time and then had their handiwork judged.
Points were earned in each class, with the top 10 progressing to the semi-finals and finals on July 6 in the Northern Lights Arena.
The 10 semi-finalists each shod the front feet of a horse. After the competition was pared to the final five, the contenders for the crown shod a horse’s back feet. Consistency was the key to winning, Swanby explains.
“If you couldn’t score high in all the classes,” he says, “you wouldn’t make it to the top.”
Beane says the competition was tough for the final WCBC at the Calgary Stampede.
“The level is so high, you have to be an all-around great competitor,” says the Yorkshire, England, farrier. “This year was very special. There were six former world champions here.”
Beane won the Stampede WCBC in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. At 35, he’s been shoeing horses for 18 years, which is also the length of time he’s been competing. Not long after he was hired for his first job shoeing, he says, his boss entered him in a competition without his knowing.
“When I came home, I said, ‘When’s the next one?’” Beane recalls. “Some people are just competitive. I like the atmosphere, the buzz and the pressure. How I shoe horses in a competition is how I shoe every day. I always do the same standard.”
Matthew Randles of Staffordshire, England, finished as the reserve champion.