The Canadian Farrier’s Team in England

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Guest Blog from Sara Vanderpol

Each year the Canadian Farrier’s Team is selected to represent Canada’s farriers on the world stage. Jack Ketel (Kelowna, BC), Justin Fountain (Kamloops, BC), John Dixon (Abbotsford, BC), Sara Vanderpol (Elora, ON) and alternate Johnny Edwards (Navan, ON) successfully passed team trials at the beginning of May near Montreal, QC to make the team. They competed together at the ‘Rumble in the Broncs’ Contest near Toronto, ON at the beginning of June. Several practices and the ‘Forging in the Rockies’ Contest later, the team was headed to the UK 2017 World Horseshoeing Classic, an international farrier competition held yearly in Stoneleigh, England.

Sara Vanderpol recounts the trip’s events and the team’s results through the following journal entries

SEPT 19 – We arrived in Gatwick airport in the morning on separate flights from Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa. We met, found our rental vehicles and headed out for the two and a half hour drive to Ely. We are staying at spacious Airbnb cottage. After a few tumbles down the stairs and head bonks on the door frames we have settled in.

SEPT 20 – This morning began early with a Starbucks breakfast and the 25 minute drive to the O’Shaughnessy’s forge. We worked on our specimens for the shoeing classes in Stoneleigh. The metal in the UK is slightly different dimensions so it is important to sort out how it stretches to make adjustments in sizing. Later in the morning, Will O’Shaughnessy came out to the shop and brought in two horses from a nearby pasture. They were tied in the two standing spots in the shop. John and I had a run of the short shoeing class first, followed by Jack and Justin.  We were very tight for time but decided that the heat of the moment in competition would pull us through when we competed in Stoneleigh. We had a run through of the gas forging which Johnny gave us plenty of pointers on.  The evening ended with a dinner at a local pub with the O'Shaughnessy’s.

SEPT 21 – Today started with Starbucks again. We headed to the shop where shoeing rounds began immediately. They went much more smoothly than yesterday for both pairs and we were all done in time. We had one more run through of the gas class, then packed up our tools and headed back to the cottage. The girls picked out a delicious pub for dinner in the nearby town of Ely. We spent the rest of the evening walking around town and packing.

SEPT 22 – This morning we left early to make the 2 hour trek to Stoneleigh Park. We were one of the first teams to arrive. This allowed us to get in a solid 4 hour warm up in and to prep our tools for the next day. We checked into the hotel and went out to a nearby pub called Saxon Mills for dinner.

SEPT 23 – We started early with Jack and Justin in the first 2 hour shoeing round. I quickly recognized the horse we were given as the same one the CFT shod last year. All of our rounds went well as the horse had very solid feet.

Our specimen shoes were not exceptional but they finished and cleaned up well enough. Johnny completed his alternate class and was a little disappointed as one of his shoes didn't come to size. After a quick lunch we completed the 90 minute Gas Class. It went as planned and our shoes were tidy.

SEPT 24 – We were in the second round, and were able to get up a little later today. We took advantage of the time and watched the round compete before us. Our horse had decently sized, shelly and slightly weak feet. Justin and Jack were a bit tight for time in the end but finished. John and I had a pretty rushed run. My hind foot ended up being more of a front shape and John was a little bit short on length on the foot. We had been worried about getting this class done in decent time, and it felt great to successfully complete it. It was late afternoon by the time we packed up the tools and left. After a bit of socializing, we headed to the Hilton for the banquet.

The evening consisted of dinner, an auction and awards. Jokes flew around the tables and a good time was had by all. We were slightly surprised to be called up for third place in the gas class and fifth overall! This is the Canadian Farrier Team’s best placing at Stoneleigh in the last 10 years!

SEPT 25 – Today our team drove into London. John went home while everyone else managed to take time off to tour the UK. I ventured off on my own to walk and take the train through London. I climbed 311 steps up to the Monument to the Great Fire of London, and walked by the London bridge, Hyde Park, Oxford Circus, St. James Park, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, the Cavalry and Big Ben.


SEPT 26 – I woke up this morning and flew home. It feels great to be back on Canadian soil!

Reflecting on the Canadian Farrier Team’s 2017 trip to Stoneleigh, I am so appreciative of everyone who made our trip possible. Without our sponsors, our trip would not have been a reality. It takes a lot of time, effort and support to bring every team member to this level. I am also grateful to have Sean Elliot as team manager. Without his direction, we would not be where we are today.

On a personal note, it has been a huge honour to travel across the world representing the Canadian farrier industry. It amazes me how many opportunities I have had to meet amazing craftsman and people through farriery. This is truly a fantastic industry to be involved in. I look forward to seeing where the team heads in 2018. If 2017 is any indication, they will continue to represent our great country and make all Canadian farriers proud!

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