Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kiwis Trot Off with Badminton's Farriers Prize for 2009

by Fran Jurga | 16 May 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

Tim Price trots up Vortex, winner of the Farriers Prize at Badminton Horse TrialsNew Zealand rider Tim Price with Vortex, shod by Andrew Nickalls, was judged Best Shod at the 60th Badminton Horse Trials in England last weekend. (Nico Morgan Photography)

By now, Hoof Blog readers know how it works. A shoeing judge observes all the horses entered in the venerable four-star Badminton Horse Trials on Wednesday of the event, as they "trot up" for the first presentation to the ground jury, where they are judged on soundness. The hoof judge is also looking at soundness and can look at their shoes.

The foot judge can have a second look on Sunday morning, when the field has narrowed down to the survivors of Saturday's cross-country, and those survivors are presented to the ground jury again, to be judged fit to continue in the show jumping. So the foot judge sees what the feet look like after dressage and cross-country, sees which shoes stayed on, and sees which horses are still in the competition and, most importantly, which are still sound.

In 2009, the judge awarded the prize to a New Zealand Thoroughbred, Vortex, ridden to Tim Price and shod by Andrew Nickalls, the team farrier for New Zealand's eventing team.

legs of horse and riderMore about Vortex: A 15-year-old Thoroughbred, Vortex had a lot working against him in the competition. By that age, an eventer has a lot of wear and tear on his legs and hooves. This horse is a veteran. Andrew said, "Vortex has good feet, and is lovely to shoe. Janelle (Richards), his co-owner and groom, simply put some oil on his hooves, nothing special."

Other horses had their hooves highly polished and buffed with coatings so that the nail heads and clips, if they were there, were barely visible. Nickalls and Price chose the opposite tack for Vortex and let his true hooves show.

horse hooves at Badminton Horse Trials horse inspection
Compare Vortex's hooves with these highly polished hoof capsules.

It is interesting to note that Tim Price owned this horse in New Zealand, sold him to Sweden, then bought him back after he moved to England. Reunited, they finished 20th at Badminton, where it is a great accomplishment just to finish at all.

More about Andrew Nickalls: Andrew has been in the UK for ten years. He apprenticed at home in New Zealand, and is originally from Tutaruru on the North Island; he took his Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (DipWCF) exam after some additional training in England.

Andrew has traveled with the New Zealand team to two Olympics now, and has competed himself at the international level of farriery at the Calgary Stampede World Championships four times since 2004, and was in the Top Ten there three years in a row. He married last year and bought a house in Dorset, on the west coast of England.

More about the shoes: We are waiting for more photos so you can see at least one of the shoes, and these will be posted as soon as they get here. Vortex wears handmade shoes made from 3/4 x 3/8" concave, with side clips, and with quarter clips behind, and is done every five weeks.

About the judge: Judge for the competition was Welsh farrier James Blurton, who himself has won the best-shod award three times.

List of Badminton farrier winners
Thanks to the Badminton event office for looking up all the previous winners. If you have trouble reading the list, double-click on the image and you should be able to see it at a much larger view size. James Blurton and Bernie Tidmarsh are tied for the most wins, with three each. Notice that all three of Bernie's wins were with New Zealand horses! I think it is interesting that no horse and only one rider (Andrew Bennie of New Zealand) has ever won twice.

Andrew said he made the trip to Badminton on Saturday to be on hand for cross-country, but Vortex had no problems after the long test. "So we just hung out and had a beer and I drove home," he said in his matter-of-fact Kiwi way. Tim called him on Sunday when the announcement of the trophy was made.

Congratulations, all the way around the world.

(Note: cover at left features Bernie Tidmarsh, resident farrier at Badminton; if you ever have a chance to meet him, don't miss it!)

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