Monday, April 25, 2011

Badminton Best Shod Horse Prize 2011: Jim Hayter Wins Second Award for Event Horse Farriery

While the big news from the 2011 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in England may be that veteran Olympic gold medalist Mark Todd of New Zealand has put a 31-year spread on his victories there, Hoof Blog readers want to know who won the prestigious Best Shod Horse Award.

And this is a story within a story. For the second year in a row, the plaque was awarded to Sussex rider Emily Llewellyn. At only 21 years old, she wasn't even born when Mark Todd won his first Badminton in 1980. For her to qualify for Badminton, much less complete it, is an amazing accomplishment.

And this is the second time she's done it.

And not only that, it's the second time she's been deemed to be riding the Best Shod Horse.

Emily's horse Society Spice won the Prize in 2010, and this year the award was given to her horse Pardon Me II, a Dutch Warmblood.

About the award, from the Badminton web site:  "A Rosette and Plaque will be presented by the Worshipful Company of Farriers to the owner of the Best Shod Horse, and a Plaque to its Farrier. Judging will take place during the Final Horse Inspection on Monday, 25th April, 2011." It sounds simple enough, but it's quite an honor--and not easy--to win this prize.

For those who like to indulge in the risky armchair sport of critiquing horseshoeing, foot condition and hoof balance from snapshots: this award is not a beauty contest. It doesn't go to the horse with the prettiest, most perfectly-formed feet, or to the horse who lands flat (or heel-first, if that is what you prefer). As I have understood it, it is an award to a farrier who has done work for a horse and demonstrated a perception and ability to help the horse overcome physical limitations or a problem in order to compete and make it to the final day of one of the most difficult and grueling horse competitions in the world.

Recent winners include Bernie Tidmarsh RSS in 2000, Sam Head DipWCF in 2002 and 2004, Clive Evans DipWCF in 2003, Billy Crothers AWCF in 2005, Jim Blurton AWCF in 2006, Martin Deacon FWCF in 2007, Paul Gordon DipWCF in 2008, Andrew Nickalls DipWCF (New Zealand team farrier) in 2009, and of course Jim Hayter in 2010 and 2011. (Badminton was cancelled in 2001 because of the foot and mouth disease epidemic.) Jim Hayter is the first to win it two years in a row.

Jim Blurton and Bernie Tidmarsh have each won the prize three times; horses ridden by New Zealanders have won four times since the Horse Trials office began keeping official records of the winners in 1993.

Jim Hayter has been shoeing Emily's horses and ponies since she was six years old. If it seems like he has a lock on the contest, consider this: Pardon Me II won second prize last year.

According to the website Eventing Worldwide, "James has ‘shoeing in his blood’ – his late father Bill Hayter was a well known farrier travelling the country to shoe Hackneys. James’s uncle, David Marley, is a farrier with a keen interest in racing and his son Peter saw James and his brother Giles successfully through their apprenticeships."

A separate article on the blog will follow, with quotes from an interview with James Hayter after the prize was announced this afternoon. You'll find out why this horse wore bar shoes at an event like Badminton and why he's not likely to show you a photo of a horse he's just shod. It was an excellent interview and worthy of an article all its own.

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