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David Manuel finds shoeing these hard-working athletes challenging and rewarding
You can get a pretty good argument going if you get farriers and horse owners talking about which riding discipline requires the most out of a horse.
But David Manuel, a Scottish-born farrier, who now shoes in the Ocala, Fla., area, feels there is no argument.
“To me there’s no doubt that polo ponies are the most athletic of all horses,” he says adamantly. “These horses have to run like a racehorse, but for longer periods than racehorses. They have to do the stopping and cutting of reining horses or barrel racers and they have to have the intelligence and understanding to anticipate the flow of the game and interpret very subtle shifts from their rider. They have to have the stamina to carry the rider through a full 7-minute chukker.”
Manuel knows his subject. Long before he became a farrier, he was already an accomplished polo player and trainer of ponies for the sport. And while he shoes many types of horses in his practice in this horse-rich area of central Florida, polo ponies are clearly his passion and the way he most enjoys his days of “Shoeing For A Living.”
Sunday, 8:35 a.m. This morning, though, Manuel will be taking care of some barrel-racing horses. After he’s done that job, he plans to attend polo matches at The Villages Polo Club, where he’ll be watching some of the ponies he provides footcare for — including some he’s scheduled…