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For The Spectators

How Is It Judged?

The most common remark from people watching farrier competitions for the first time is “Does the fastest one win”. Whilst speed is a factor, quality and accuracy is the key here. In the blacksmithing events competitors are trying to match the blueprints as closely as possible as well as making sure they get the measurements correct while trying to achieve the best finish they can in the time allowed. Forging events are very similar with a few extras thrown in, like making sure the shoes are level and all the nail holes are formed perfectly and accept the appropriate nail.

The shoeing events are the ones that are scrutinised multiple times by the judge. Each competitor will trim the feet on their horse making sure they are as level as possible and shaped as close to ideal as can safely be done. These trims will be judged while the competitors then start making their shoes. Once the shoes are complete the judge will look for forging quality of the shoe, is it level, do the nails fit and most importantly, how well does it fit the foot. Finally the nailing up of the shoes will be looked at. Here the judge wants to see nice neat work that enhances the horse’s foot. The scores are added together from each section and the winner calculated. Sometimes there can be fractions of points between the first 5 or 6 competitors. Many competitions have been lost by a ¼ of a point.

 

What Does A Well Shod Horse Look Like?

Foot Preparation:

Every horse has different feet from all others. Some don’t have the same quality of wall to nail to or even a good natural shape. As farriers we are trying to enhance what the horse already has naturally and improving it if we can. The feet that a competitor draws on the day will vary greatly. Some horses will have a lot of excess that needs to be trimmed off while others will have almost nothing. The judge will take this into account when making his scores. A foot that has had very little removed may score higher than one that started with plenty of excess but was over done with the knife and rasp. The judge will look to see if the foot has been made as symmetrical as possible. Once again, a foot that is not symmetrical may score higher than one that is if too much wall was removed to achieve it. Any knife marks will reduce the score even further. Getting the foot level is critical. A horse’s foot will distort from uneven weight distribution whether from poor shoeing or from poor conformation (crooked legs, look at the bottom of your own shoes and see if they are worn evenly) a level foot and a level shoe means comfort for the horse.

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Forging The Shoes:

The well made finished shoe will have several qualities. It will need to be well forged, having maintained its section through the shoe making process. It should be level with no hammer marks and well formed clips that are as high as the steel is wide. The nail holes will be uniform, well placed along the branch of the shoe with just the crown of the nail sitting out when placed in the hole. The shape should be balanced, so that if a line is drawn from the first nail hole it will bisect the through the middle of the heel of the shoe.

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Nail & Finish:

When nailed on the shoe should sit perfectly flat on the foot with contact all along where the wall rests on the shoe. A common mistake is what’s known as a “Sprung Heel” which means the shoe doesn’t sit flat on the foot when nailed due to either the shoe or foot not being flat. The clenches which hold the shoe on the foot should be neat squares with no marks under them and exit the wall approximately one third up the wall. The foot should be finished with no rasp marks on the outer wall and finished smooth.

Nail & Finish