We've been halfway around the world and back again this week to catch up with New Zealand team farrier Andrew Nickalls, who in turn has been celebrating his victory in one of the world's most understated and underrated competitions for farriers, the "best shod horse" trophy at the 60th running of the four-star Badminton Horse Trials on May 7-10 in Gloucestershire, England.
Andrew (photo at left) is the sort of fellow you'd want in your life boat when the ocean liner is sinking. He simply shot pictures of the horse's feet with his cellphone and emailed them. Mission accomplished. Of course, you can't see much, but he got the job done.
The shoe, first: Vortex is a 15-year-old New Zealand Thoroughbred that is at the four-star ("Olympic") level. He finished 20th at Badminton, and the only things on his feet are shoes, nails and studs. That's quite something in itself. The shoes are handmade 3/4 x 3/8" concave, with side clips. I asked about the double stud holes, sure that it was some Kiwi trick but Andrew said: "I put two studs in the outside branch due to the fact that it's such a major competition where they are being taken in and out so often and therefore the extra is a spare one in case the thread goes!"
Side view shows the fit and the positioning and relative size and height of the clips. While the shoe is set back under the toe a bit, it's fit with some fullness at the heel and quarter, perhaps more than you'd expect for a horse that is going to be scrambling through a cross-country course. Andrew obviously knows this horse and knew what he could and couldn't do there. Some horses are more careful jumpers than others.
This is part 2 of this article; for more about Badminton's Farrier Prize, Andrew Nickalls, please read part 1 of this article, showing the horse's front end conformation and the rider's action. Click here to go there. The competition was judged by James Blurton, who has himself won the award three times with three different horses for three different riders. Jim evaluated the horses both before the competition and on the final day, to see how the shoes and feet had held up...and which horses were still sound.
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