Here A Club, There A Club, Everywhere A Club, Club

Veteran farrier describes his ultimate upright challenge

Sonny Pistilli has been shoeing horses since 1967. As you’d expect, he’s seen a lot of clubfooted horses in 46 years. But for the last couple of years, he’s been dealing with a horse that presents the biggest clubfoot challenge he’s ever faced.


It all started when one of his oldest clients got in touch with him from Europe. He and a young female rider were looking at a big German warmblood, a Trakehner breed. The horse had good bloodlines and what was more, they could get him at a good price. He had some conformational issues. He was “a little upright.” But the sellers were saying with the help of a good farrier, the horse could be a top competitor. He was already showing at Dressage Level 4.

“I asked him to tell me how upright he was, on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being as bad as it could be,” recalls Pistilli. “He told me maybe a 3.5. I said I could deal with 3.5.”

He pauses and then chuckles.

“He never mentioned we were talking about all four feet.”

Upright Everywhere

Big Al, as the horse is known, arrived on this side of the Atlantic standing 19.2 hands high and weighing in, Pistilli estimates, at around 1,450 pounds. He was also wearing #6 Werkman hind-pattern shoes — on all four feet.

005_Sonny-Pistelli_Club-foot-case-study_0614.jpg 007_Sonny-Pistelli_Club-foot-case-study_0614.jpg 004_Sonny-Pistelli_Club-foot-case-study_0614.jpg

That’s right — including the fronts.

And that 3.5 club? Pistilli only needed one look to tell him the right front was really…

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Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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