A national competition in horse shoeing was held for the first time in connection with the entertainment weekend called Töðugjöld at Hella last year. At this time, preparation is under way for another competition, at the Geysir grand tournament at Gaddstaðaflatir on Saturday July 31st at 14.00 hrs.
We contacted Sigurður Sæmundsson, who is the judge in this competition, in order to get some information on the nature of the horse shoeing competition and how it is performed and what the main focus points are.
According to Sigurður, the setup of the competition is that each competitor shoes one horse and has one hour to complete the job. The judge checks on each competitor and at first round whittling is judged, how the hoof is planned and the work on the hoof. Each competitor can only use hand tools, not a sand spinning wheel or any electric tools.
The next part to be judged is how the shoe is formed for the hoof, how well it sits and whether the seam is at the correct height. Then the clinching is judged and how well that is done, how the clinching aligns with the hoof and finally the finishing touch on the hoof along with the uniformity between front and hind hooves.
The competition will be held at the riding arena at Gaddstaðaflatir and the idea is to set the competition up in such a way that it is easy for spectators to walk between and watch the farriers in action. Among the competitors are both educated farriers as well as those who have a long term experience in horse shoeing therefore having acquired the experience.
According to Sigurður, the hosts of this tournament have a goal to get as many farriers as possible to participate. At this time, only one group is competing in the class of cold shoeing, but the aim is that later on there will be competition in both warm shoeing and cold shoeing. Competitions such as these are quite common in many places abroad, and it is considered a great honor for a farrier to be crowned as a champion in his country.
Competitions such as this are very popular amongst spectators, because watching a competition such as this is both entertaining and educational for people interested in horses.
The champion will be crowned directly after the completion of the competition at the Rangá arena. The Icelandic Farrier Association is about four years old and the main object of its foundation was among other things to increase flow of information and education of Icelandic farriers and also maintain the contacts which Icelandic farriers have with the schools they studied at.
Horse shoeing is a profession which takes about three to five years to complete. In some countries such as Britain, it is strictly forbidden to shoe a horse if the farrier does not have the necessary authorization papers. In many other places in Europe the development is such that only authorized professionals are allowed to perform horse shoeing for a living and in many places insurance companies refuse to insure farriers unless they have the necessary authorization papers.
The Farrier Association attempts to help young people who are interested in studying horse shoeing by using the contacts that the association has. This profession has to be studied abroad, but with the establishment of the association it is now possible for students to take a portion of the vocational training here in Iceland. This is very important because studying to become a farrier takes a long time and a great part of it is vocational training with someone who has mastered in the profession. Education for people in general, is a very important factor for the Farrier Association in Iceland and not least to acquire knowledge from abroad and to deliver information to the farriers living abroad and are working with Icelandic horses.
Members in the Icelandic Farrier Association today count about 60 persons. Eiðfaxi wishes to congratulate the Farrier Association which is hosting the national competition and encourages people to come and watch this educational and entertaining competition.