Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Do You Not See What I Don't See? Unorthodox Shoeing Takes Reiner to the Top

I love high-resolution digital photography. Finally, I can enlarge images on my computer screen and see details of feet that my old magnifying glass could never show me.

I thought I would share this image with you. These are the front feet of a reining horse called Walla Walla Whiz, ridden by reining superman Shawn Flarida of Springfield, Ohio at the NRHA's big competition in Oklahoma City last weekend.

This horse was in the vet clinic with colic symptoms and a fever less than 24 hours before this photo was taken. The horse left the clinic and loped right into the arena, where he blasted to the top with a score on his last round of something like 231...and Shawn brought home another big paycheck. He has won more than $2 million in reining competition.

I was kindly given a high-res image of Shawn and Walla Walla Whiz in their winning slide. I opened the image on my computer and immediately reached for the phone to ask Shawn what he had on his horse's front feet.

I hope you can see what I see. In order to upload the image to this blog, I had to convert it to low resolution, so the feet may not be clear the way that they are in high-res on my big monitor.

Shawn's solution to the lost shoe woes of the reining arena was to half-shoe the horse. This would be what we used to call a "tip" shoe or a "grass tip" for racehorses. The shoe only extends back to the widest part of the foot. From there back the heels are filled with in with adhesive. Shawn's brother does his farrier work (sorry, I forgot the brother's name!) and he used two nails on each side.

I'll try to get a close up photo of the bottom of the foot too. Don't look too closely at these feet...this is not a post about hoof balance! Also, Shawn did not say how long the horse had been shod this way, and you can't say if what you see is really the contour of the hairline or if the horse's walls were blackened unevenly. Reining photos like this one always are like a can of worms!

I don't know what the footing is in this arena--obviously it is something ideal for reiners, given that Oklahoma City is their home town. But one thing is for sure: if a horse did lose a shoe in this red dirt, it would be a lot easier to find than the usual dirt-colored footing.

Thanks to Shawn (and congratulations!) for sharing his shoeing secrets with Hoofcare and Lameness Journal.

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