The first leg of the Southeastern Triple Crown was held this past weekend, September 12-13, in Odenville, Ala., and was hosted by the Alabama Professional Farriers Association. Chris Madrid judged the competition, which drew about 19 farriers. 

This first leg of the three-part competition marks the beginning of the third annual Southeastern Triple Crown, which was first organized by Eric Gilleland, president of the Georgia Professional Farriers Association, Phillip Box, president of the Alabama Professional Farriers Association, and Robbie Hunziker, vice president of the Florida State Farriers Association. Gilleland and Box both participated in the competition in Odenville.

Gilleland says the threesome began the competition primarily as a way for farriers to come together, “Not just to learn from each other, but also to test their own skills to see where they’re at.” 

The competition has a portion called a “Two Man Draw,” in which each competitor draws a name from a hat and then competes with the person whose name they pulled in one round of the competition. “When the competitors draw a name from a hat,” Gilleland says, “you can end up with someone from division one paired with someone from the open division. It’s very educational for everyone involved because a lot of the open division guys are more experienced so they can teach the younger guys how to work with a striker and stuff as they go.” 

Gilleland says each of the three legs of the competition is a little bit different, which makes the Southeastern Triple Crown a lot like any stand-alone competition. The special thing about competing in all three portions of the contest, is that it adds a little bit extra as far as competitive edge, according to Gilleland. “You can do really well at one contest and then not so well at the other two and still have a chance of placing in the Triple Crown. We give prizes to the top 10 competitors in each division.” 

Young and old farriers from the area and abroad compete in the Southeastern Triple Crown. Gilleland mentioned one farrier from England who had only been in the United States for a week before coming to participate in the Triple Crown and another who was upwards of 70 years old and still holding his own in the competition. 

Gilleland says he was encouraged to see that many of the 19 competitors were younger farriers taking part in Division 1. 

“The competition can take time away from your family at home and your weekend, but it’s fun. And you’ll learn a lot. Some farriers I talk to say they can’t miss a day of work to go to a competition because of the money they’ll lose, but what they’ll learn by participating in the competition will make them money throughout the rest of their career. And to me, going to contests and clinics is part of our job. If we want to be able to do the best job for our clients, we have to keep learning.” 

Gilleland says Chris Madrid, the judge for the first leg of the competition, offered numerous tips to the competitors on how to forge the shoes for the competition. “He had time to go through several of the shoes for the competition and show us how to make them. There was even one competitor who had a few questions about one of the shoes, so Chris was able to take the time and have people in the class start making the shoe while he told us how to make it, step-by-step.”

Gilleland says the one thing that Madrid stressed the most was to follow the basics. “That way,” he says, “you don’t have to go back through and fix all of your mistakes afterwards. Instead of just trying to rush through and get something done and then having to go back and fix it, just take your time and do it right the first time around.” 

The second leg of the Southeastern Triple Crown will be held from October 10-11 in Athens, Ga., and will be judged by Mark Milster. Gilleland says, “The competition has been very successful and we plan to hold it again year after year. It’s been a lot of fun for the competitors.” 

He stresses that farriers who can only make it to one leg of the competition should still compete. Registration for the second and third legs of the competition are still open. You don’t have to enter the Triple Crown to participate in one of the legs of the competition.