At the new Flatland Forge Shop in Tuscola, Texas, participants worked in the forges of WCB’s competition trailer, which has five built into each side.
“Everybody is focusing on the aspects of shoemaking they’ve been having trouble with throughout the year,” Craig Trnka, WCB founder, told the Abilene Reporter-News.
“This is the time you can get in the fire and burn all the bar stock you want, because these are some of the best hands in the world.”
Nikki Smith and Ashlee Dinges were among farriers attending the clinic to prepare for an upcoming competition. Others came solo to improve their skills.
“It’s addicting. There’s never perfection, but you’re always striving for it,” Smith says of her motivation. “It takes over your life.”
This drive is necessary to persevere in the highly specific craft that doesn’t always turn out quite right. According to Dinges, the reward is when the shoes fit.
“I know I can always improve my shoemaking, but when I finish shoeing a foot and it fits right, that is satisfying.”
Despite the variety of pre-made shoes available for purchase, Dinges emphasizes the value of being able to forge whatever she needs.
“The horse doesn’t have to stand around being sore, you can just pull out a piece of steel and fabricate it,” she says.