Farriers From Around The World Meet In Tulsa To Master Trade
TULSA, Oklahoma - Horseshoers from around the world are in Tulsa this week to celebrate one of the world's oldest trades.
Every state in the U.S. is also represented as farriers work together to master their craft. Farriery is an age-old trade that dates back to the 1300s.
“This is a passion to me, this a passion to everybody that's here,” Oklahoma Farrier Association President Craig Stark said.
A farrier is a skilled, educated horseshoer. Stark, for instance, has an animal sciences degree and has studied the anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics of a horse. He’s also a trained ironworker.
“Farrier kind of goes back [to the] term faris, which is iron. So we are an ironworker, for lack of better words,” Stark said.
This week Oklahoma is hosting the American Farrier Association Convention at the Cox Business Center. It’s the first time the state has hosted the event since the group formed nearly 50 years ago.
“I think it's a huge deal,” said Stark. “We have some of the best of the best here, for sure.”
The farriers are in town from all over the world. China, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, and the UK just to name a few. And they're all in Tulsa to fine-tune their horseshoeing skills.
“The farrier community is kind of a family. We get together and it’s kind of like a family reunion,” said Stark. “We want each other to grow as farriers and be better.”
Gerry Margesin is visiting from Italy, where he’s run a farrier business for the past seven years.
“I love it so much because not every horse is the same and not every foot is the same,” Margesin said. “[I’m here to] practice, to be better for my business at home in Italy.”
Farriers craft horseshoes using a forge, iron, and many other tools. They trim the horse's hoof, sear the shoe in place, then nail it on.
Stark says it’s can be a dangerous job.
“We are dealing with live animals and horses are typically a fight or flight animal,” he said. “So we have to convince them that we’re there to do no harm and ease around them.”
Stark says the outer portion of the hoof has no nerve endings, so when shoed right, the horse doesn't feel a thing. But the work must be done precisely to protect the horse's health.
“It's seemingly simple and infinitely complex,” said Stark. “The term we’ve coined is 'no foot, no horse' … If he's sore in the foot, he doesn't do his job. If he doesn't do his job, then I'm not doing my job.”
It's a job some may think has been forgotten, but Stark says, no just hidden.
Together this group is forging ahead to keep the farriery tradition alive.
“Everything I've learned has been given to me, I want to give it to the next generation so that farriery can continue for the next 2,000 years,” Stark said.
The convention goes through Friday and includes demonstrations, along with forging and horseshoeing competitions.
One winner will walk away with a $10,000 prize.
You can find more information about the convention on the American Farriers Association’s website.