Saturday, May 09, 2009

Badminton 60th Anniversary Horse Trials: The View from Below

by Fran Jurga | 9 May 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

In England this weekend, the 60th galloping of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials is well underway in Gloucestershire. The photos are a little slower than the news is getting to me, but when they get here, they're wonderful.

Badminton is the world's most prestigious three-day event, rate four-stars, and this year is even having decent weather, except for high winds during the dressage that ruined some people's well-laid plans.

These photos are from Wednesday, at the first vet inspection. In this photo, you see a horse's hooves being oiled to insure that the vet will not pick them up. But they'll look nice. Other horses looked to have a hard, high-sheen coating applied, rather than the classic oil. Whoever is at work here is a confident woman who doesn't fear getting hoof oil on her expensive bracelet. So it's true what they say about event riders being fearless.

The hooves of experience shown here are those of the famous Toytown, who has had such bad luck lately. The cowboy boots belong to Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth. The former World and European champion event horse under Phillips, Toytown's 16-year-old hooves look like they have been around the block, and he's had more than his share of lameness problems, including being knocked out of the Olympics last year. Sadly, he was retired on cross-country today after bobbling some fences and getting hung up. Zara did the right thing. Her second horse, Ardfield Magic Star, went lame on cross-country and was also retired. Zara's father, US eventing coach Captain Mark Phillips, won Badminton four times.

Here's Emily Llewellyn with Society Spice, who made it through cross-country. I went through all the preliminary horse inspection photos and it looks like a much smaller percentage of horses is shod with toe clips this year, although it seemed that most of the horses in the top 20 after cross-country were predominantly shod with toe clips, which is interesting in itself. There looked like some glue-ons, too and lots of very highly manicured hooves for the inspection--I wonder what they look like now. Last year's best-shod horse, Valdemar, did not pass the first inspection.

The fashions that some of the riders don for the horse inspection are pretty wild (but fun). Both of these riders chose clothing that, when you look closely at their horses' legs, which is what the ground jury will do, their clothing does not distract from the horses' action or coloring. Smart move.

Check back on Sunday (or maybe Monday, depending on when they supply the news) for announcements about the Best Shod Award and the ultimate winner.

Note: These three photos are provided by ©Kit Houghton/Mitsubishi Motors. Thanks to Kit for not cropping the feet out of the photos.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page).

To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to


Heidi Meyer said...

Interesting how the old boy was landing heel first both front and hind, while the second horse is going to definitely land toe first on that right fore. The handler is going to land heel first....guess that's what's important ;)Both have some torque going on in the hind end as they are landing on the outside first...glad those shoes are going to flex and allow them some concusion relief (tee hee)>

Fran Jurga said...

Heidi, thank you for your comment. I went through 189 inspection photos and they virtually all looked that way behind, very consistent at the top level of the sport of eventing.

It is considered normal in sport horses; more than 90% of warmbloods have some degree of lateral landing. (And I'd consider these horses, many of which are Irish sporthorses, to be warmblood-type.)

A great paper to read on the subject is Dr Meike van Heel's summary of landing patterns for hoof trimming in the Equine Veterinary Journal; it is available for download here:

These horses don't compete or train on stone dust alleyways like this, so this is the only opportunity over five days to get a good look at the feet.

Anonymous said...


Did you pick up upon the two horses wearing hoof cuffs??


Fran Jurga said...

Hi Peter,

Not sure what you mean by hoof cuffs, I thought I saw a couple were wearing Sigafoos shoes. Were they hoof casts?

I also thought I saw one horse with Andrew Poynton's sport-model Imprint glue-ons and I thought maybe one of the Italian horses had on 3-D flying saucers. (How do you screw studs into those?) Am I correct?

They have posted all the winners except the Farriers Prize!


Anonymous said...


A new technology developed a year ago in the racing industry, and formally launched yesterday at our ATF conferance. Hoof casts/cuffs look like "Vetwrap" fitted around the hoof and under the shoe, it is actually a very tough shell formed from a Balistic Grade Polyester bandage which prior to application to the hoof is impregnated with a air/water hardening cement.

When fitted to a hoof, the shoe is nailed to the cuff and not into the hoof horn, thus avoiding the nail trauma of penetrating into the tissues of sensitive/degraded horses feet.

Shoes with studs or stud holes are fitted as normal.

Hope this helps,

Regards, PNB.

Anonymous said...


Hoof cuffs/casts look like "Vetwrap" nailed under the shoes, the shoe is actually nailed into the cuff and not the hoof horn!! alievating aggrevated nail trauma, by nailing into sensitised and or degraded hoof horn.

The cast is actually made of very tough balisitic grade ployester, previously impregnated with an air/water hardening polyeurthane cement. The cuffs/casts are then glued and/or screwed onto the animals feet!! prior to the reception of its shoes, [stud holes and all].

Hope this helps, Regards,