Marnus Olivier likes to see ringers during horseshoe competitions — but not in the usual sense.

When the 23-year-old added making shoes in live competitions to training horses and being a farrier, he placed second in his last competition of novice, intermediate and open. “I’m in the novice yet,” he said, which suits him fine for the moment. “If you’re a winner and you’re a novice, you move up to the next class. ... I’d like to stay a novice until I get my shop built and more experience.”

During the competition different shoes are made, such as a regular pair of fronts, a pair of sledding plates used for reining horses and eggbars. The difference comes about as a regular horseshoe tends to end at the heel of the foot and the eggbar goes all the way around.

Competitors are given one shoe and can view the horses’ foot for a couple of seconds. They are judged on how exact the shoe is made to fit the hoof. Of course, the one that gets the closest — wins.

Most of the shoes made in competitive events are specialty shoes such as for lameness issues. “You have to put it on a particular horse,” he said. “You always have to make a pair and the pair has to match up perfectly.” The nail placement is important. When the shoes are placed on top of each other, they have to line up perfectly. The shoes made are taken home by the competitors.

Farriers are busy in the summer months with their own business. Fall, winter and a bit of spring are when most of the competitions are held, at locations throughout the United States. Olivier’s future plans are to pack his anvil, forge and tools of the trade and go wherever the events are held.

But first, he wants to finish building his shed with its two-horse stall and partitioned-off shop area because it will mean more practice time for him.

He credits Terry Holts of Millville with steering him to competitions. “He’s been in the business for 37 years as journeyman horse shoeing, on the American Farrier Team and currently as a coach,” Olivier said. Many people in the area who compete go to his house to practice. Olivier said this helps him in the use of the anvil, hammer and other tools.

Olivier lives with his wife, Loretta, and young son, Walter, on a five-acre hobby farm near Fountain. They have 20 Angus cattle and rent pasture. Olivier showed horses in 4-H, did his apprenticeship with a couple of different people before becoming a farrier for the past six years, and currently trains his own horses.

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