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Who would ever dream that an untrained ranch horseshoer from West Texas, whose father shod racehorses, would make six trips to Europe because of the farrier trade?
Certainly not me, but that’s what’s happened to me since I joined the American Farrier’s Association (AFA) in December of 1984.
Actually, my first bit of traveling was to the AFA Convention in Jackson, Miss., where I was like a kid in a candy store! There was so much to learn and so many tools of the trade that I’d never seen before. I met what for me was a new breed of horseshoer—those who were obviously experienced and successful in their trade.
I entered the competition that year without knowing that the top four competitors would earn spots on an international shoeing team that would travel abroad to represent the United States.
I’ve now been lucky enough to represent AFA at the International Competition in Stoneleigh, England, five times as an American Farrier’s Association team member. In late summer I returned from my sixth trip to Stoneleigh—my first since 1995—but this time I had been invited by the Worshipful Company of Farriers to judge the competition.
The Stoneleigh competition is like none in America. Farriers only compete in one class each day. The rest of the time is spent helping, watching and cheering teammates on. That also makes it a great opportunity to watch other farriers from all over the world compete.
Watching a practice round…