The team shoeing was for the most part uneventful (no pun intended). Jeff Newnham, a good friend and English farrier, picked me up at Heathrow airport late Monday morning. We drove for two hours to the Cotswolds area of England were the team has been training since June.
As you can see from the pictures, the barn is huge. There is plenty of area for us to set up in and work. There is also plenty of area to set up and work and a good indoor arena with lots of light. With most English barns, you'd be working outside or in a small, shed-row type of space. With all the rain they have been getting, this would have presented a problem.
For this trip, we had 11 horses to shoe, normally about a half-day's work at home. But here, we spent two days doing the shoeing, since we needed to be sure to get things just right.
It was trot, shoe and then trot again. We do this for several reasons. One is to compare the horses to the last time we saw them. Do things look the same?
Secondly, riders and grooms tend not to "see" so well this close to such a big event in their lives. As a farrier, you need to cover your ass. If you do not, trust me, you will be the fall guy if a problem shows up
These horses still have two gallops left, so things can still go wrong. Nothing is set in stone with this group till they ship to London.
The shoeing at this point is conservative. The only change we made was at the request of the coach, using a three-stud pattern for the hinds. This is not really unusual for a jumper, but is somewhat for an event horse. They have had so much rain in England this spring and summer that we are expecting poor footing; hence the extra stud hole. Whether or not it will help remains to be seen.
For the first time in my several trips, the sun did poke out for a few hours. Perhaps that's a good omen.
Team vets and selectors go over to England this weekend to watch the final gallop and give the nod to the team, assuming there are no issues.
My next trip will be to Greenwich Park in London for the 2012 Olympics completion. The four days of eventing competition is scheduled to begin on July 28.
Pennsylvania farrier Steve Teichman has helped provide hoof care for the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team in Sydney and Athens. While in England participating in the evaluation and selection of horses for the 2012 U.S. 3-Day Eventing team, he provided updates as the Olympics progressed. Click here to read more from Olympic Shoeing With Steve Teichman series.