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