STEWARD FOR A DAY: A Darn Lucky Servant
By Jennifer Horn
The text of Jennifer Horn’s article in the Profession Farrier magazine is below;
The American Farriers Association National Farriers contest is an arena that offers much more than just a competition. There are many different perspectives and many different ways to be involved in the contest and each carries its own set of advantages. For several years I have been lucky enough to witness this contest from the “best seat in the house,” a steward. What is a steward? Webster defines a steward as a manager or trustee; a chief servant. I see myself and the other willing volunteers as being knowledge thirsty observers, willing to contribute to the huge coordinating effort it takes to put on an efficiently run contest of this size, in order to put ourselves in a position where we can satisfy our own selfish educational needs. Over the years I have learned to do my “homework” before this contest begins. I learn about the shoes that will be built. I try building some of them and I try building them in different ways. I read articles about building the shoes and how the shoes should be used. I follow the accomplishments of some of the competitors and some of their “styles” offorging. I attend the competitors meeting, listen to the announcements, hear the competitor’s questions and the judge’s answers and comments. As the stewards begin to scatter around the arena floor, it is obvious that they are carefully selecting positions where they will be able to take advantage of watching certain competitors, for certain reasons, during certain classes. And, throughout the events, they switch and rotate posltions. I’m not sure if the competitors know it, but we are watching their every move. We watch how they assemble their stations, how they prepare their tools, what they may be doing to mentally prepare before a new class.
And then the clock starts. We are watching the sequence of their shoe building, their timing, their posture, sometimes even taking notes and drawing pictures to refer to later. There is so much happening at one time, it can be difficult for the brain to absorb what your eyes are receiving so quickly. Knowing what the competitors are trying to accomplish during each “heat” allows you to understand and learn more from watching what they do to accomplish their tasks. You can actually see things happen. It is so neat, and it creates so much inspiration and enthusiasm inside, that you can hardly wait to get home in front of your own fire and try some of the things that you witnessed. When the buzzer ends the class,the stewards jump in and cool shoes,tag the shoes and collect them for the judges. You can’t get a closer view to the finished product than that. You get to touch the shoes while tagging them, and what you didn’t see with your eyes,you are now feeling with your hands. As you collect them,you are comparing them to other shoes. There are so many opportunities to learn. $0, if all the education you can receive, and the ability to watch from so close you can feel the heat, isn’t enough, there are more advantages. You also get the opportunity to work with a team of people in a joint effort to clean floors, move rubber mats, arrange walkways, exercise a little and burn up some of that cooped up energy. When the work is all done, several of the sponsors donate nails, rasps,towels, left over steel, and other goodies which are divided up amongst the workers as a sign of appreciation, and don’t forget about that real nice red vest. Now, if you are thinking that a steward is in fact a servant … make that a darn lucky servant!
– Jennifer Horn, CJF