VIDEO: Striving for shoes that fit like glove

WEYBURN, Sask. — Taris Tuffs admitted to being terrified.

However, the apprentice farrier quickly found her footing as she competed in her first farrier competition, the Chad Johnstone Memorial, at the Weyburn Agricultural Society fair.

“I just started my course in January,” said the advanced farrier sciences student from Olds College after completing the first part of the novice event — modifying two shoes in 30 minutes.

She had never made the two types of shoes before the competition and said she just wanted to make sure she got them finished.

Tuffs, who already has an equine sciences degree from the University of Guelph, is apprenticing for the summer with David Morch of Rosthern, Sask. Part of the course requirements is obtaining 640 hours of work experience.

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“We provide room and board and we get a servant,” Morch said with a laugh. “Then she goes back to school in the fall.”

Twelve people from the three prairie provinces and France entered this first Weyburn competition, which is part of the Western Canadian Farrier’s Association points series.

Organizer and farrier Gerd Martin of Pilot Butte, Sask., said the event was held to honour Chad Johnstone, a farrier, Weyburn Agricultural Society president and community volunteer who died in a work accident last fall at age 38.

Martin said Johnstone liked teaching other farriers, and horses were a significant part of his life. It seemed fitting to honour him with a competition.

A fundraising auction the night before the event earned $16,000 for the farrier bursary fund at Olds College, where Johnstone had also trained.

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Farrier competitions involve three classes: novice, intermediate and open. Each class becomes progressively more difficult, and the prize money increases accordingly.

“You’re judged on your forging,” Martin said. “Your shoe has got to be smooth and look like it came out of a factory.”

The contestants later put their handmade shoes on horses.

“The judges look at your fit of the shoe after you get nailed up.”

Martin hopes the event will become a regular part of the annual show and be bigger and better in years to come.

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