Michael DeLeonardo Farrier Education through Competition

Living legends in the horseshoeing industry say this is one of those professions you never stop learning.  I’m learning every day.  And I also regularly participate in competitions for education and professional development.  The clinics at competitions give me a chance to meet and watch world champion blacksmiths at work.  The competitions themselves give me the opportunity to learn to build different shoes for different feet and different therapeutic indications, then get better through critiques of my work.


There are various levels at which individuals and teams compete, as well as a range of different types of contests. You’re judged based on quality, but you have to get the job done in the allotted amount of time.  Participants may be given a specimen shoe to match; build to the judge’s requirements for width, length, thickness and style; then set on a horse’s foot — all within 60 minutes.  In another class, you may be allowed to only look at but not touch or measure a horse’s foot, then given only 20 minutes to build the style of shoe the judge recommends — the shoe that best fits wins.


Competitions are held by local farrier community groups and international associations.  I regularly attend and participate in the Western States Farriers Association competition held in Placerville in May and the San Diego County Farriers Association competition held in October.