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As part of the National Forging & Horseshoeing Competition, farriers will shape a piece of bar stock into a horseshoe in a set time in hopes of being chosen to the American Farriers Team, which travels the globe competing in international horseshoeing competitions. / American Farrier's Association Contributed Photo

Twelve years after its last convention in Chattanooga, the American Farrier's Association is returning March 10-13 for its 49th annual convention and 2020 National Forging & Horseshoeing Competition. The convention is being held in the Chattanooga Convention Center, 1150 Carter St.

The only nationwide event of its kind and scale, the AFA convention brings farriers, veterinarians, suppliers, horse owners and students together for four days of education, competition, certification, hands-on learning and networking. There is also a MarketPlace that includes many of the top suppliers and manufacturers in the equine industry.

The convention will feature guest lecturers who are experts in the fields of farrier, blacksmith or veterinarian professions. Conventiongoers will hear from them on a variety of hoof-care related topics during 20 hour-long sessions over those four days.

The National Forging & Horseshoeing Competition will take place Tuesday, March 10, through Thursday, March 12, featuring more than 150 farriers competing in the Open, Intermediate and 2-Person Draft Classes.

Yes, you read that right. There will be farriers working at forges and beating on anvils to shape horseshoes. There will also be horses in the Convention Center brought in by the Music City Horseshoers Association.

"We have 20 stations running off propane-powered forges at various times each day. We have to receive special fire marshal approval for this contest well in advance of selecting a site and follow very detailed fire-safety rules," says Martha Jones, executive director of the American Farrier's Association in Lexington, Kentucky.

"All of our competitors heat their steel in forges, then move to the anvils to shape it into a shoe while it's hot," she describes.

"The shoes are then judged by several factors, but most notably by the dimensions of the shoes on a list that was provided to all competitors last fall. The rounds of competition are timed, so they have to do all of this in a relatively short amount of time."

The AFA provides propane, forges, anvils and anvil stands; competitors bring their own tools.

The competition culminates with the Capewell North American Challenge Cup Live Shoeing Finals on March 12 from noon to 3 p.m.

"The finals are the culmination of Tuesday and Wednesday rounds, featuring the Top 20 competitors," says Jones. "We will also announce our American Farriers Team from that Top 20. They travel the world competing in international horseshoeing competitions, representing the AFA and the United States."

Jones says spectators are welcome to attend the contest to watch this lost art and learn from top farriers and veterinarians in the world.

"We have guest passes available on-site for $50, and people can purchase those to attend anything they like. Additionally, children 15 and under are free to attend anything."

For a full schedule of speakers, events and competition classes, click here.

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