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Sunday, May 08, 2016

Badminton Farrier Prize: Charlie Sands' four-star horseshoeing wins best-shod award for his girlfriend's horse (Part 1)

Resident farrier Bernie Tidmarsh watches a horse at the Badminton House stables, used for the Duke of Beaufort's Hounds and the Badminton Horse Trials. Bernie has a forge at the end of the stable block. He's won the Farriers Prize at the Badminton Horse Trials multiple times. (Fran Jurga photo)


Hint: if you want to win the Farriers Prize at the four-star Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in England, consider having your partner shoe your horse.

Or, alternately, if you're a farrier, consider helping your partner make it all the way around Badminton so your shoes have a chance of being judged the winners on the final day of the event.

Fact: For the past three years, the Farriers Prize has been awarded to a horse shod by the rider's partner.

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What many people will remember about the 2016 Badminton Horse Trials is that Michael Jung of Germany won the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. He was the first rider since Pippa Funnell in 2003 to win, in succession, the world's three premier four-star events: Burghley Horse Trials, Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, and the Badminton Horse Trials.

Congratulations to Michael, who has been at the top of the sport with dominance in world, European and Olympic titles for the past several years, beginning with his World Championship win at the Alltech FEI World Equestrians Games in Kentucky in 2010.

But he wasn't the only "grand slam" winner at Badminton this year. British event rider Izzy Taylor nailed three of the prestigious awards presented at Badminton: the British Sport Horse Breeding Award for her Allercombe Ellie, Best Groom for Anna Mildner, and the much-coveted Farriers Prize, awarded by the Worshipful Company of Farriers to the Best Shod Horse.

(Complete list of Badminton Farriers Prize Winners at the end of this article.)

As always seems to happen, the 2016 Farriers Prize has a delightful story to go with it, and the fact that the horse is shod by Izzy's boyfriend, Charlie Sands, DipWCF is just the tip of a fun-facts iceberg.

England's Izzy Taylor on her Allercombe Ellie during dressage at Badminton. (Kit Houghton photo)

Charlie gave an interview tonight as he was driving the horse box home from Badminton. He still had an hour and a half to drive, he'd been gone from home (and work) for a week and it was late, but he shared some information.

Note: Photographs of Allercombe Ellie's hooves and shoes are now posted in part 2 of this article. Please proceed to part 2 after you finish reading part 1, which includes biographical information about Charlie Sands, DipWCF and the horse.


Izzy Taylor and Allercombe Ellie whizzed through the four-mile cross-country course at Badminton with just a few faults to finish eight overall for the event; they were the third highest British pair, which will hopefully impress the Olympic team selection committee.
The hooves were judged by Jim Blurton, AWCF, who set himself up to judge this morning when the horses were presented for the final horse inspection. By Sunday at Badminton, there are many fewer hooves for the judge to look at, since a considerable percentage of horses don't make it through cross-country, or won't pass the final inspection. Only 46 of the original 68 starters were still in contention this morning.

About Charlie Sands

English farrier Charlie Sands waits on the sidelines while his girlfriend, Izzy Taylor, competes at the 2016 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in England last week. On Sunday, Charlie found out that he had won the prestigious Worshipful Company of Farriers' "Farriers Prize" for the best shoeing. Izzy finished in eighth place; she and the horse, Allercombe Ellie, are under observation for the British team that will compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Photo courtesy of Uptown Eventing.

Charlie Sands is a farrier who lives in Oxfordshire, England and runs a forge in Gloucestershire. At 6'6" tall, he stands out in the farrier world--or anywhere he goes, for that matter. In spite of his height, Charlie says he is beating the skepticism about tall farriers and has had no back problems, "And no one shoes more horses than I do," he asserted.

Charlie is an Approved Training Farrier and oversees the career development for three apprentices at the moment in a shoeing business, which includes a great many eventers trained by Izzy Taylor. He said that he and his "lads" sometimes prepare up to 150 sets a week. He shoes for many National Hunt trainers and polo ponies, and does a lot of foxhunters in the winter, possibly because he hunts himself.

Jim Blurton during the Worshipful Company of Farriers' Badmonton Horse Trials Farriers Prize judging in 2015. Jim has won the prize three times. (Nigel Perrott photo, from the Hoof Blog archives)

An interesting fact about Charlie is that, in spite of his height, he rides in point to point races and even won a race at the Cheltenham Festival when he was an apprentice. That exploit was chronicled in the British equestrian magazine, Horse and Hound. His former master, Andy Martin, is a well-known amateur jockey in England.

Oddly enough, Charlie had hoped to win the inaugural "Best Shod" award at the Grand National steeplechase at Aintree, a month ago. He sent a horse to the grueling test wearing special handmade aluminum shoes. He remarked that racing farriers received very little credit for their work, and that the shoeing award at the Grand National, the first to be offered at a race event, was a welcome addition.

The second place award was won by the Vanir Kamira, ridden by Australia's Paul Tapner, owned by Trevor Dickens and shod by Jamie Goddard of Goddard Farrier Services.

Event horses' feet aren't always pretty. The prettiest thing about them, as a matter fact, is sometimes the shoes. This is a horse that competed at Badminton and won second place in the Farriers Prize. The rider is a former winner at Badminton, Team Australia's Paul Tapner; the horse is Vanir Kamira. This is the work of Goddard Farrier Services, farriers to both Tapner and Christopher Burton, also on the Australian team.


About Allercombe Ellie

The 13-year-old British-bred sport horse mare is a homebred owned by Frances Carter and Susie Holroyd; this year's Badminton was her first four-star event. She finished in eighth place overall, and third among all British horses who finished. She is one of several horses ridden by Izzy Taylor under selection team observation for possible inclusion on the British eventing team in the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympics.


To quote Sport Horse Great Britain: "Ellie received the prize as 'the highest placed horse by a graded SHB(GB) stallion’. Ellie, who was bred by her part-owner Susie Holroyd, is a daughter of the SHB(GB) Elite graded stallion Jumbo (Skippy-Seven Bells xx) – also the sire of former SHB(GB) award winners Avebury and Headley Britannia. Ellie is out of Susie Holroyd's homebred mare My Last Edition who is by the former premium sire Poetic Justice. As the highest placed British-bred mare Ellie also won the prize of an embryo transfer donated by Beaufort Embryo Transfer."

Note: in 2014 and 2015, the Farrier Prize at Badminton was won two years in a row by a horse shod by the rider's boyfriend. In those years, the winner was Irish farrier Neil Dickson, for his shoes on Euro Prince, ridden by Claire Abbott.

The list of Badminton Farriers Prize winners 1993-2016, curated by Hoofcare Publishing.
Note: Next year (2017) will be the 25th anniversary of the Farriers Prize.
Please continue to read; Part 2 of this article is about how the mare was shod, with photos of all four feet. Click to proceed to Part 2.


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