Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bigfoot on Course: Is Gatcombe's Best Shod Horse the Biggest Shod, Too?

Gatcombe Park best shod horse Mulrys Error
This horse is making a big splash in the eventing world. British event rider Ben Hobday's big-footed advanced horse is headed to the 4* Land Rover Burghley International Horse Trials in September next, with new shoes that measure seven inches across. Does Mulrys Error OBE have the biggest advanced section feet in the eventing world? (Smudge9000 photo)

Congratulations to British farrier Paul Conway, whose shoes were on Mulrys Error OBE, winner of the 2014 "Best Shod Horse" award at the British Festival of Eventing at Gatcombe Park last weekend. The judge couldn't miss this horse's feet.

Mulrys Error is ridden by Ben Hobday. His sire is the Irish Thoroughbred Eve's Error; Paul Conway said that the dam was a draft horse, which would make sense when you see his hooves.

Mulrys Error horseshoe made by Paul Conway
One of Mulrys Error's giant front shoes measures seven inches across. This is from a new set made for the upcoming Burghley Horse Trials in September. (Paul Conway photo)

Paul sent over a photo of one of the horse's new front shoes, which he just completed. The toe-clipped shoes measure 7 1/4 x 7 1/4" and are made from 7/8 x 3/8" stock, drilled and tapped for two studs. "I know this is quite light," Paul said, "but you can't put inch x 3/4 fullered on a 4-star eventer."

Mulrys Error OBE has his own Twitter account (perhaps his feet deserve their own?). He occasionally tweets about his feet, or rather the fame his feet and farrier have brought him, since he doesn't appear to suffer from any foot problems. His performance is helping his reputation as he climbs to international eventing's highest level, as well.

Mulry's big feet had their own headline in this week's Horse and Hound, possibly the first time the size of a horse's feet have ever been mentioned so prominently in the news
Paul Conway is a farrier in Lancashire, England and is an event rider himself.

Way to go: Event rider Ben Hobday congratulated his farrier, Paul Conway, after Mulrys feet won the "Best Shod" award at the 2014 British Festival of Eventing at Gatcombe Park. Both Ben and Paul are active on Twitter.

As mentioned on this blog before, the "best shod" classes at British international-level events are a type of alternate competition circuit for farriers, whose work is evaluated without a forge or anvil in sight. Foreign farriers preparing horses for international-level events in Britain like Badminton and Burghley often have no idea that a judge will be picking up feet and checking out how a horse is shod.

The shoes (and feet) are judged on the basis of how the work done suits the sport and support needs of a particular horse. Judges, who are appointed by the Worshipful Company of Farriers after being trained to judge these classes, have mentioned taking into consideration how farriers dealt with conformational challenges or foot shape and it's not always the handmade shoes that win.

Gatcombe Park Princess Anne
The backdrop for the British Festival of Eventing at Gatcombe Park is the country home of Great Britain's Princess Anne, who is Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Farriers; the Company in turn sponsors the Best Shod Horse class. (Keir Shepherd photo)
To learn more:

Best Shod Horse at England's Burghley Horse Trials Wore Handmade Shoes by Steve Arnold (2013)

Badminton's Best Shod Horse: Irish Farrier Takes Home the Worshipful Company’s Plaque

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